Dog eat dog? Nonsense.

Conflict.

Not a happy word, is it? Particularly when it comes to agency/client relationships. Typically, conflicts are created when a marketing agency considers working for clients in the same category i.e. cars, QSR, etc. It’s not allowed.

There are countless examples, many we never hear about. On a personal level, two conflicts come to mind. The first involved my father, Larry Postaer and his agency. Back in the day, when DDB merged with Needham my dad was the CCO of Needham L.A. Their flagship account was Honda in America. Alas, DDB brought with it the Volkswagen car account, then more well known. Rather than give up Honda (which would’ve been the result), dad and his partner, Jerry Rubin elected to acquire the L.A. office (no simple feat) creating Rubin Postaer & Associates.

The second case involved a conflict within my current agency, Euro RSCG. In Chicago, we were quite proud of our work on Valspar paints, having helped launch the brand in America, A truly integrated case study, we did our finest work for them and won numerous awards for doing it. But then our European offices picked up the Dulux paint account, a huge player overseas. Our client had global aspirations, and despite support from their marketing department, the corporation gave no quarter. Chicago had to part ways with Valspar.

In the first case, all ended well. 30 years later, Rubin Postaer & Associates (now RPA) still enjoys a vigorously healthy relationship with Honda –and Acura for that matter.

The second conflict was not so kind. At least on a local level. We lost our creative flagship and an inspiring case study. For what? A brand most of us had never even heard of in a relationship 2,000 miles away.

I wonder if these so-called conflicts are just plain silly, especially in a time of multi conglomerates. Basically, there are only four or five advertising holding companies. The odds of them lording over clients in the same or similar category are overwhelming. Is it really fair to tax one agency over another? Similarly, on the client side, one company can own brands in numerous categories. If an agency commits to one brand does it have to defer to all the other categories in that client’s portfolio? Crazy.

What are we afraid of? That an account executive will run down the hall of his or her agency and steal trade secrets or marketing plans from another team working on a similar brand? Really? We trust that our CPA or lawyer won’t divulge delicate information to another member of the firm. Is our trustworthiness in Adland so fallible? Don’t answer that.

Frankly, in the transparent new world is any information all that precious, particularly in marketing. Ad campaigns are shared willy-nilly online. People tweet what they’re working on. Tag lines come and go. Why are we so protective of our work? No one else is.

In my opinion, conflicts are like appendixes. They usually cause harm and who wants them anyway?

CCC winners, including Best in Show.

After much controversy, criticism and concern, the Chicago Creative Club awards was resurrected last night in the United Club at Soldier Field. While it was by no means a flawless affair, it was a far sight better than the debacle some 15 months ago. Without going into it, the previous show had degraded into a one-sided and ugly contest right before many of our eyes. Participants left drunk and/or dismayed and certainly disenchanted. We woke up to beastly reviews from the local press. Most felt the show had been ruined beyond repair.

We pointed fingers at one another, pissed and moaned about Chicago’s deteriorated creative community, and then, well, went back to our business. There were ads to make. Websites to build. Pitches to win.

Something happened, however, on the way to the funeral. A small group of decent creative persons decided not to let the thing die. Chief among them the Chief Creative Officer of Two by Four, David Stevenson. He came to consultant, Ann Brown’s side when few others would and set up to rebuild our beleaguered award show into something we could all be proud of. Others scoffed. Many more were indifferent. But the coalition of the willing grew. By the time I was asked to help it was “on” again, even if many big questions remained.

We decided to use preeminent local judges, not flown in “stars” from other agencies. The idea here was simple. We made the mess. We had to fix it. Fostering real community was critical. Having a judge from every participating agency meant that participation was certain. Beyond our ads, we now all had skin in the game, literally.

And so, on a Saturday in August two dozen of Chicago’s best creative talents convened at Euro RSCG and made their selections from a previously culled shortlist. My creative partner and ECD of Euro RSCG, Blake Ebel was among them. His quote, caught on camera, summed it up. “This is pretty awesome, guys, all of us together, judging each other’s work.”

Indeed, a jury of our peers. Then and there, Chicago’s creative community was reborn. And from what I could tell, that corp d’esprit carried right over into the show. The best pieces won and, more importantly, we were able to congratulate each other for doing them. Gone was the rude peanut gallery and with it, the copious amounts of Schadenfreud that polluted shows previous. In addition to good ads and good people, the much-maligned venue (too far, no cabs, etc) shined for us that night. After the ceremony, cocktails and light dinner were had out of doors beneath the mighty pillars of Soldier Field. We were even graced by a late evening fireworks show, probably courtesy of some rich couple’s wedding at the Yacht club nearby!

But for me the highpoint came at the end of the awards presentation. Best of show had been given to BBDO, for its ripping Canadian Club campaign: “Damn Right Your Dad Drank It.” Everyone cheered. And cheered. And cheered some more. A deserving campaign, but the applause was bigger. It felt like the biggest winner of all was… us.

A final note: Beware smugness. The CCC may be out of the weeds but hardly in safe harbor. More improvement is necessary. While turnout was a pleasant surprise, there should have been more people, especially newcomers and students. Somehow, ticket prices will have to come down. And where was Cramer Krasselt? As a leading creative agency in town, their seeming boycott was a blot.

A complete list of winners was not available as of this writing. Please check the CCC website for updates. The awards show book comes out this Fall.

A quiet hurray: Our Valspar campaign was given a bronze Effie last night in New York. A large number of us were there to receive it. As it happens, our category, “new products/campaigns” also had in it the launch work for a little gadget called Wii. Understandably, Wii grabbed gold as well as the Grand Effie. Which meant no gold for us! Oh, well. Next year for sure.

Kudos to Leo Burnett for this well-deserved and, frankly, well-needed prize. Folks have been on LBCO’s case a lot lately. This victory should offer some timely relief.

I wanted to post one of the Valspar commercials but You Tube isn’t letting me imbed either film. (However, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many people were viewing the spots.)

Our sophomore effort for Valspar is breaking right now. I dare say that work is even better. And just as soon as my traveling companions give me the photographs, I’ll post a shot of our client belting ‘em out at the karaoke bar on 38th Street!

Thanks to everyone below for helping to create this fine campaign. Congrats on your Effie.

Credits:
Chief Creative Officer: Steffan Postaer
Executive Creative Director: Blake Ebel
Interactive Creative Director: Briar Waterman
Creative Director/Art Director: Amanda Butts
Creative Director/Copywriter: Elyse Maguire
Producer: Monica Wilkins
Production Company (TV): Caviar; Directed by Raf Watthion
Visual Effects: Nozon
Music: Elias Music
Audio and Sound Design and Mix: Sound Slave
Art Buyer (Print): Julia Cunningham
Photographer (Haystack Print Ad): Glenn Oakley
Photographer (Coral Print Ad): Ric Frazier
Retouching (Haystack and Coral Print Ads): Saddington & Baynes
Account Director: Scot Havrilla
Media: MPG

Special shout out: Zain Raj

For those of you who haven’t been “hit” by the Cabot Tidal Wave, here it is. As its author and creative director, I had a lot invested in this film. One of the reasons I blogged about it from South Africa. Thankfully, it turned out pretty well. Special thanks to director Marc Wilkins and Paranoid films. And of course kudos to our client, Cabot and Valspar. To a man, they are among the best I’ve ever worked with. We are lucky to have them.

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