Agency Brief: Recession looms, Gary Vee publicly shames an intern, but we still have Shatner
As reports circulate that a recession could be on the horizon “a lot sooner than anyone thought,” Keith Johnston, Forrester vice president and research director, global CMO practice leader, and a former executive at agencies, including T3 and MullenLowe, says brands are going to use this economic downturn as “an opportunity to acquire talent.”
“Certainly higher-salary, high-risk employees will look for safe havens and in-house is an option,” Johnston tells Ad Age, adding that as agencies “shake the waste if you will,” brands that “want a chief creative in-house” will try to recruit them at a lower salary than they could in a booming economy. “A lot of the tech titans go hunting realizing they can grab some folks,” he says.
Johnston predicts agencies could lose 3 to 30 percent of their revenues during a recession as brands will shift increasingly more to project work. Those that he estimates will weather the storm best are shops that are “nimble” and have already restructured their infrastructures to adapt to a project-based model, as well as those that have already “invested in their technology.”
“The needs of the clients shift drastically in a recession,” Johnston explains. “There’s already a call for more efficient, measurable media. There’s going to be a greater squeeze on that.”
Christie Cordes, an industry recruiter and founder of Talent Acquisition Recruitment & Strategy, tells Ad Age “most advertising creatives and executives say to us that client-side is something they are very interested in considering.”
“They feel the agencies are unstable, especially now that the holding companies are consolidating,” Cordes says. “The talent pool in 2019 is repeatedly expressing that agency work is avalanching onto them and their teams; more work is expected in less time for smaller client budgets. The recession fears are only exasperating the insecurity.”
One creative director, who tells Ad Age he’s been at a boutique agency for over a decade, is considering going in-house with his sights set on Netflix, Apple, Facebook and MedMen, among others. “Things are looking pretty dang hairy for the future,” he explains. “Feel like there’s going to be bloodbaths on the agency side of things soon.”
There is such a thing as a stupid question!
VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk’s “empathetic and kind” leadership qualities he boasts of apparently do not extend past the four walls of his agency. This week, a hopeful intern texted Vaynerchuk (who’s tweeted out his number so anyone in the industry can pick his brain), in the hopes of working with him for the summer, but in doing so, drew the ire of the internet personality and agency owner, who was then quick to publicly shame him for it.
Here’s what went down.
Nick Anderson (Gary Vee also kindly makes the person’s name public) texts Vaynerchuk, “Can I intern for you?” It appears this was not the first text exchange with Vaynerchuk, and the CEO was affable at first, responding with “When ? Email Drock” (referencing Video Editor David Rock, duh!). Anderson texts back “Next summer” and then “What’s his email?” That last text will likely haunt Anderson for the rest of his days. It doesn’t appear that Vaynerchuk responds, at least initially, but instead screen shots the conversation (name included) and tweets it out with the caption: “If you want to intern for me and can’t figure this out on your own, :(“.
Ouch. To all elementary school teachers spreading the lie of “there’s no such thing as a stupid question,” you are failing in preparing kids for the real world full of Gary Vees. Sure, Rock’s email is probably easy to Google or figure out by trial and error, but any sane person would likely think, “instead of wasting my time trying various compilations of name plus @ plus agency plus .com, I’ll just directly ask the guy right in front of me who knows the email.” To all the people looking to intern at VaynerMedia in the future, just know that Gary Vee makes you work for it. In defense, Vaynerchuk says it was all in good fun and he has “great vibes” with Anderson so chill out, man.
“To work as an intern you have to have the ingenuity to find an email address,” Vaynerchuk tells Ad Age. “However, I have no interest in harshness or calling out names. This is someone I’ve interacted with multiple times, and the tone has been grossly misunderstood—it was more tongue-in-cheek. We have great vibes and he understood the vibes of my message, and I will continue to have a relationship with him.”
Cryptocurrency woes have William Shatner robbing banks
When a frustrated William Shatner tries his hand at trading crypto and finds the exchange too slow, he resorts to bank robbery in this new 60-second ad from Oberland in New York for Blockchain.com, a provider of cryptocurrency. The teller manages to talk Shatner out of the crime, persuading him to use Blockchain.com’s “PIT” exchange instead. The spot is part of a global digital campaign, called “Don’t get held up. Level up in The PIT,” to promote the PIT. “After years of turbulence and hype, euphoria and disillusionment, we’re at a stage where real-world applications of cryptocurrencies are having tangible impacts around the world,” says Haider Rafique, head of growth at Blockchain. “Campaigns that drive education, awareness and that first purchase of crypto are vital to keeping this momentum moving forward and growing the community of crypto users.”
When interns take over
The day before TBWA’s summer internship comes to an end in New York, the budding creatives transform the office into a pop-up shop. The interns were tasked with creating unique merch that “embodies the spirit of the company,” TBWA says, but it was also aimed to be a test on how they “function as their own agency.” TBWA poses as the client in this situation, giving the interns a set deadline and budget. The interns conducted research, finding the agency’s staff didn’t want anything “generic or overtly branded.” What they came up with was “Undeniable Goods” that includes eight designs that pay tribute to TBWA’s history such as its iconic 1984 commercial for Apple. The interns delivered, leaving the client happy.
“These kids told a great story,” says TBWA\Chiat\Day New York CEO Rob Schwartz. “They didn’t just answer the brief, they delivered something we didn’t think possible.”
The wins of the week
Car insurance carrier SafeAuto selects Joan as its agency of record to lead strategy, digital creative, design and production across video and audio. The agency, which will also help manage special projects and partnerships for the Columbus, Ohio-based company, beat out seven other agencies in the pitch for the account. Joan expects to debut its first work for the company sometime in 2020.
Hyundai’s Innocean wins lead media planning and buying duties for UC Davis Health in California following an RFP process initiated in April. The agency will also be tasked with developing a communications plan for reaching diverse audiences. Innocean is the network’s first AOR in several years.
Bondi Sands, an Australian brand of self-tanning and sun care products, names Hertfordshire-based search marketing agency Honchō as its agency partner to boost its digital marketing footprint in the U.K. As its U.K. search marketing agency of record, Honchō will be tasked with driving greater visibility of Bondi Sands’ through its SEO and content marketing services. “In the U.K., tanning and beauty markets are increasingly competitive; so naturally, the sites and brands with greater visibility on Google search results pages, for example, will see greater traffic and conversion figures,” says Syed Ali, head of performance at Honchō.
Iron Mountain, a storage and information management services provider, names Centerline Digital, a self-described business-to-business customer experience marketing shop, as its agency of record in a two-year deal. Centerline Digital is tasked with delivering global campaigns and strategic content development for Iron Mountain. Rebecca Sandrue, director of content, brand and events at Iron Mountain, says the appointment follows a review that initially included 18 agencies. “We were looking for an agency that certainly had strong global experience,” Sandrue adds, and “not just a partner that’s really strong in creative” but one that has a deep understanding of the Iron Mountain brand.
This week’s hires and promotions
BBH New York hires Tom Callard as head of planning. Callard, who worked at BBH London from 2013 to 2015, most recently was group strategy director at 72andSunny New York where he led strategy for Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Spotify Premium, Autotrader’s brand relaunch and Smirnoff.
Mother is welcoming four new creatives to its Los Angeles office. Pilar Peace joins from Mother London as head of art. Chris Vernon also comes aboard from Mother London, as a writer and director. Andrew Livingston and Simon Bruyn both join as creative directors from TBWA\Chiat\Day. The additions follow Mother in L.A. winning Sonic Drive-In’s creative account in August.
Mcgarrybowen’s “ideas” agency Swirl in San Francisco names Ryan Lindholm president. This marks Lindholm’s return to the agency world after stints at apparel brand RYU (Respect Your Universe), Nature’s Path, Clif Bar and Nike. Before shifting brand side, he held positions at AKQA, Razorfish (which has since been folded into Publicis Sapient), J. Walter Thompson (now Wunderman Thompson), DDB and TBWA.
Independent creative agency Duncan Channon poaches Gary Stein from Eleven as its first chief integration officer. Stein was most recently Eleven’s associate partner and head of activation, overseeing media, planning and data insights. His appointment follows Duncan Channon buying A2G, a shop focused in experiential, influencer and social marketing. Stein is charged with driving collaboration across the agency’s strategy, media and creative departments.
We Are Social names Lore Oxford as its first global head of culture and insights to diversify the agency’s research and insight function and promote greater collaboration across markets. She most recently worked on the strategy teams at AMV BBDO, on the Bacardi and Samsung accounts, and at Karmarama, on Nando’s and The National Citizen Service.
Creative digital shop Code and Theory makes the following hires and promotions to “streamline global leadership.” The agency hires Pierre Wendling from TBWA\Media Arts Lab as global head of production, leading a team of 40 people. Dave DiCamillo is being elevated to chief technology officer after leading production and operations for Code and Theory previously. Director of Strategic Partnerships Brent Buntin moves into the role of chief marketing officer.
Kingston, New York-based digital shop Dragon360 promotes Andy Groller to managing partner and CEO from executive vice president. The agency that works with clients such as NextGen Healthcare, Pantone and Mizuho also elevates Abe Uchitelle to managing partner, while he also maintains his current role as president. Both Groller and Uchitelle become equity partners of the agency that previously was solely owned by Co-Founder Don Tallerman since 2014. Tallerman continues as a partner.