Lashes Out at Mediocrity, and Award Shows

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NAPLES, Fla. ( -- It could well be that a good many ad account reviews were set in motion at the Association of National Advertisers
Donny Deutsch tore into the ad agency business today, saying too many shops charge too much for mediocre work.

convention this weekend in Naples, Fla.

And Donny Deutsch will be responsible.

15 points
The CEO-chairman of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch outlined 15 ways agencies can do better by their clients Saturday morning, saying too many ad shops were mediocre and too concerned with profit centers to focus on bringing clients great work. Companies, he said, would do well to rid themselves of their misplaced sense of loyalty to sacred cow relationships that hamper business.

In a lively speech peppered with Donnyisms and curse words, Mr. Deutsch spoke against agency commissions and creative awards while saying marketers should push for smaller production budgets, far shorter planning periods and more succinct ad strategies as a way to unwind inertia that affects sales. He said agencies need more integrated agency teams, with one brand steward and no division between account and creative people.

"We should have creative business people and business-minded creative people," he said. "If somewhere along the way

you're not happy, fire your agency. You should never settle."

Agency elitism
Contrary to conventional wisdom, he said consolidation of media agencies isn't necessarily the best deal for clients. He said marketers shouldn't have to contend with less-than-the-best creative, prima donna creatives, fat account teams and agency elitism.

"Get tougher with your agencies. Take them off the pedestal," he said, getting more agitated and animated with each point.

If a company is jealous of a competitor's ads, they should hire the competitor's shop, Mr. Deutsch preached, adding agencies shouldn't be allowed to blame poor results on a weak economy. "I'd be a pain in the ass client," he said.

Campbell's Soup CEO
The charismatic agency chief-cum-pop-icon seemed to have won over Douglas Conant, CEO at Campbell's Soup Co., who spoke immediately after him. When he approached Mr. Deutsch on the podium, Mr. Conant told him they needed to talk and he appeared to knock his own agencies -- WPP Group's Y&R Advertising and Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide -- saying he had not seen them at the conference. But he quickly backpedaled at the podium, saying he was pleased with his agencies. He later told he was just having a bit of "fun banter" and that he would not have presented ads at the confab had he been unhappy with his shops.

Speaking out against creative awards, Mr. Deutsch said, "They're bull -- people I wouldn't hire are judging the awards shows." He said if agencies have the time for the shows, they're not working on client business. "Great work is work that moves business -- and has nothing to do with what the creative retards think."

Marketers should demand an agency's best staff -- generally a handful of its most senior people -- and they can figure out who those stars are by canvassing other agencies.

Agency reps not impressed
Though he got lots of laughs from the audience, agency reps weren't that impressed.

"If I had $150 million," said one agency after Mr. Deutsch's speech, "I'd get up there and say whatever I wanted, too."

Mr. Deutsch cashed out when he sold his shop to Interpublic almost two years ago.

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