Relentless transparency & Agency Spy: accepting criticism along with the traffic.
December 16, 2011
The spike. That moment when a measurement goes crazy, registering pressure, size or magnitude. Something big is happening. Something wicked this way comes. And so it was yesterday for the Gods of Advertising…
Returning from the gym, I open my laptop to my blog, the latest post on the Mcgarrybowen advertising agency. I have a couple comments waiting, which is typical. However, one is a ping from none other than Agency Spy. To quote George Jetson’s dog, Astro: “Ruh-Roh.” I don’t think I need to introduce any of you to this muckraker of marketing. I’ve been in the crosshairs of Agency Spy before. Once, they championed a post I’d written (a rarity), the other time not so much. Then I was a shit and the comment flies came out in droves.
Impulsively, I check the stats on my blog’s dashboard. And I see the spike, a gargantuan one, towering above last week’s numbers like the Burj Dubai. Gods of Advertising has a modest following. On a given day, I might get 600 visitors. On this day the number is triple that and growing. I don’t have a choice; I go to Agency Spy. I find it, second down on their list of “Odds and Ends.”
Euro RSCG alum Steffan Postaer equates McGarryBowen to Tim Tebow. Please, make it stop.
Granted, the “make it stop” hangs there like poop on the fur of a dog’s ass. But still, only one line. And yet my blog’s traffic has more than tripled.
Most agency leadership teams squirm at even a mention of Agency spy or George Parker’s Adscam/The Horror! Don’t go there. Don’t talk to them. Ever! It reminds me of our government’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gays in the military. Among other things, it’s naive. I know for a fact plenty of agency leaders visit these sites. How could they not? It might come smothered in crap and surrounded by flies, but sites like these post news at the speed of word-of-mouth. Sometimes they even make news.
Agency silverbacks like to say that only kids, morons and malcontents go to these sites. Hmmm. I’ve heard that said about “American Idol” and “Perez Hilton.” To paraphrase David Ogilvy: they are not a morons; they are your wife. Pretending Spies of the world don’t exist is, in my view, dumb and out-of-touch. Like when a company tries to “control a message.” News flash: The age of the press release is over. Like it or not, corporate strategy (for agency and client) must be what I’m calling relentlessly transparent. Choose otherwise and you pay a price. Calling bullshit is the new normal, the critical offspring of authenticity.
I knew my post would draw criticism. But so what? That’s a good thing. Just like the traffic it created. That’s the so-called “conversation.” I don’t believe agencies can tell clients to embrace new media (and its sensational and scary byproducts) unless we do so ourselves. Hypocrisy otherwise.
I don’t like attacking people or spreading gossip. That makes sense for me. But I will tip sacred cows and I do make plenty of mistakes. When I do, you tell me and I adjust accordingly. We have a conversation.
I’m pretty sure that’s how smart brands need to behave with their consumers as well. (If they want to keep them, anyway.) Not fearful and controlling. But open and inviting. Lord, I know it sometimes hurts. But you develop a thick skin. You learn how to react. More and more being hated on seems less offensive than being labeled a shill. For me, for you, and for brands. Strange as it may sound, I learned a lot of this from Agency Spy.