Within the past few weeks, a stunning number of top media and ad industry players have left or announced their voluntary or involuntary departures from senior executive positions: Conde Nast's Steve Florio, Gruner & Jahr's Daniel Brewster, Euro RSCG's Bob Schmetterer and BBDO's Bill Katz, among them. Likewise, a number of coveted clients are shaking loose: Verizon Wireless, Burger King, Red Lobster and-some still insist, despite its denials-Audi.
A sleepy industry is in no one's best interest. Change is good, albeit painful in the short term. It can also provide a valuable learning experience. The cases of Verizon Wireless and Burger King speak volumes about the state of the advertising business today.
It's significant Burger King left the massive WPP Group holding company machine for Crispin Porter & Bogusky, a smaller, scrappier, creatively-focused shop that's part of the comparatively compact MDC agency family. It's also telling to see Verizon Wireless hang up on Interpublic Group of Cos., after being shunted from its chosen Interpublic agency, Bozell, to Lowe and, finally, McCann. (McCann, however, is still in the review.) Explaining the parting, Verizon didn't mention its latest agency; it faulted the entire holding company. "We are not completely satisfied with what we have received from IPG," said a spokeswoman.
In their respective hyper-competitive categories, Verizon Wireless and Burger King need truly breakthrough creative, top resources and a strong connection with their shops. Agencies, can you hear them now?
The high volume of churn can be an opportunity for agencies and captains of industry that keep their focus where it belongs: on marketers' challenges and the best solutions.
In short, this is a wake up call to all fans of the status quo.