One Final Thought on the Small Agency Conference

We Missed You There

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Bart Cleveland
Bart Cleveland
If you attended Ad Age's Small Agency Conference last month you already know why I encourage every small agency's support. If you weren't present here's what you would have realized: The small agency is the engine driving a more positive future for our industry.

This was evident to me because at the conference I saw the work small agencies are doing for iconic brands such as Coca Cola and Lego, the innovation they are introducing in digital and social areas of our industry and the caliber of creative that was recognized at the Small Agency Creative Awards (this same work garnered some of our industry's most coveted awards this past year).

For years Ad Age has recognized the significance of small agency contributions to our industry. The Small Agency Diary was established almost five years ago to give these contributions a platform for which to be shared. Ad Age expanded that effort last year by instituting the Small Agency Awards naming the best small agencies in each region of the country and the Ad Age Small Agency of the Year. Last month they held the first Small Agency Conference in New Orleans.

These efforts deserve small-agency support and recognition because to do so insures our success to make more significant contributions to our industry. Ask any agency that was named a Regional Small Agency of the Year if it helped them in new business and I'm confident you will have the unanimous answer, "Yes." Ask Rockfish, last year's agency of the year, if that recognition helped them in their efforts to grow and to recruit better talent. They will answer the same. Some of the agencies recognized are tiny. The meek are indeed inheriting the advertising world.

However, I feel we small agencies are not taking full advantage of the opportunity. The Small Agency Conference was a resounding success from my view and had good attendance. But it should have been great attendance. Granted, the economy stinks, but we're talking about the future, not the present. As marketers, we know that those who invest while times are bad out pace competitors who do not when times get better.

This is the time to invest. I walked away from the Small Agency Conference energized and proud. I was proud because the work that won at the Small Agency Conference was among the best I've seen in any awards show this year. I was energized because of the caliber of people who participated. One aspect of my admiration is that all were humble. The awards ceremony was a casual affair, almost like a family sitting around the table during the holidays sharing gifts and good wishes. It was evident that being small helps you realize there is no reason to think too much of yourself.

My exhortation to those who missed this past conference and awards competition is to join us. In doing so, you will discover how significant your little agency really is to the future of our industry.

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