S.F. malaise

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Here's the paradox: Tech advertising is booming in San Francisco, yet many agencies say it's a bust. Tech companies just don't get advertising, the naysayers complain. And tech outfits are sapping the city's reputation for great creative by pushing shops to churn out forgettable work that few people see. But the problem here is not clueless clients. It's clueless agencies.

Tech advertising is not a problem. It's an opportunity for agencies savvy enough to figure out how to produce and sell inspired ideas to clients. The tech category has never looked brighter-both from the amount of money marketers are spending and the smart work that some agencies and marketers are successfully working together on to produce. San Francisco agencies' attacks on tech in last week's Ad Age are shortsighted.

A Grey Worldwide executive said 70% of the pitches his office is invited to participate in are tech-related, adding, "Unfortunately, that's the reality." Unfortunate to be at the epicenter of technology and to be invited to help define branding for companies with a chance to change the world?

There are clueless tech marketers, to be sure. But there also are many with the money and brains and passion to build brands.

San Francisco shops are free to ignore tech clients if they feel tech is such a drag on their esteemed creativity. We'd advise technology marketers to steer their business to agencies that see the opportunity.

The smartest comment in last week's story came from one of the ad industry's most cogent thinkers, Goodby Silverstein & Partners' Jeff Goodby. Mr. Goodby argued that being at the center of tech offers a creative challenge beyond simply shooting a TV spot. The "golden age of advertising in San Francisco" is far from over, he said. The city's agencies have the chance with technology to show just how creative they really are.

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