Giving lip service to the need for small agencies and the entrepreneurs that start them (and fight pretty hard every day to do great work and meet a payroll) is great. Actually paying attention to those small agencies, their people and their work would be far better.
As long as Ad Age and the other media "covering" advertising continue to talk almost exclusively about the big shops, the marquee shops, the big clients, the marquee clients, the resurgence of small, dedicated, talented agencies will continue to stall.
Why bother bemoaning a situation unless you have a solution, or at least refuse to be part of the problem?
Westlake Village, Calif.
Consider indy networks
In response to the editorial "In the giants' long shadow" (Viewpoint, AA, Feb. 14), where Ad Age questioned whether the agency business has lost its entrepreneurial edge in the wake of the recent merger and acquisition activity, please consider the following.
It is true more and more clients are looking for global reach for their marketing communications programs, and rightly so as they seek to grow into new markets. It is also true, as you suggest, that many independent agencies believe they must sell themselves to the publicly held multinational agencies to remain relevant to their clients. But there is another alternative many good and fiercely independent agencies choose that allows them to remain independent and still serve their clients internationally, and that's the independent network.
There are nearly 30 independent networks around the world. Agencies join them for the international connections, the sharing of resources, the exchange of ideas and experiences. International Communications Agency Network, for example, is 50 years old, is made up of 77 independent agencies in 50 countries and has combined billings of over $2 billion. Some members have been in the network for over 30 years. . . .
ICOM serves a number of accounts in multiple countries with the same disciplines that are used by the multinational agencies. We work for clients that have campaigns that are creatively consistent country to country, such as J.I. Case heavy equipment and the U.S. Potato Board. We also work for clients that need campaigns that are created specifically for different markets, such as E. J. Gallo wines. . . .
Yes, it is a concern that more and more agencies belong to bigger and bigger structures and have fewer and fewer owners. Happily clients do have a real alternative to this growing sameness.
International Communications Agency Network
Liquor code allows ads
The article "Retail Media introduces TV net for liquor stores" (AA, Jan. 17) incorrectly reported that the distilled spirits industry has a broadcast advertising ban in place. This voluntary provision was lifted almost three and a half years ago when the distillers updated their advertising code of practice to include broadcast advertising. The code, which includes 30 provisions, ensures that distilled spirits advertising -- regardless of the medium -- is responsible, tasteful and intended for adults.
Since updating our code to include broadcast advertising, approximately 2,000 broadcasters have aired distilled spirits advertisements, including broadcasters in all of the top 10 media markets. These broadcasters and their viewers have accepted these responsible distilled spirits advertisements for what they are -- just another form of beverage alcohol advertising. In fact, there has been absolutely no negative reaction in any of the markets where they have aired.
As time passes, more and more broadcasters understand there is no justifiable reason for treating distilled spirits advertisements any differently than beer or wine ads. We encourage other broadcasters to follow their lead. Alcohol ads should be judged based on whether they are responsible and tasteful, not on whether they are one form of beverage alcohol or another.
Peter H. Cressy
Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S.