Stuart Elliot Talks A Little Shop With Your Humble Servant Agency Spy

By SuperSpy 

Stuart “Motherf***in'” Elliot. The man has been cruising the streets of advertising forever. He is such a laudable pundit that we felt it necessary to use ***’s. You cannot cuss around Elliot. Anyway, he was kind enough to answer a few of our questions. Enjoy!

1. You’ve been writing about advertising for over two decades. We have to ask, what it is about advertising that has kept you enthralled after all these years?

Elliot: “Advertising is fascinating to cover because it’s about money, human behavior, television, big business, money, creativity, entertainment, marketing, money and media. Plus in recent years the new media and new technologies have been responsible for so much change, making so much of what i cover fresh again.”

2. Can you comment a little bit about your thoughts on the recent exchange program between Publicis and Google? What do you think of it? What does it say about Publicis and/or Google and our industry?

Elliot: “The exchange program between Publicis and Google will be fascinating to follow. I mean, Google is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla right now, so Tim Armstrong reading the phone book in Times Square would draw a giant crowd, no? Anything that speaks to how the giant agency companies are fighting to figure out the future is going to be worth watching.”

3. Let’s face it – we’re heading into a recession and advertisers are already pulling back on their budgets. You’ve seen recessions come and go. Can you offer us some historical perspective and some advice for agencies looking to weather the storm?

Elliot: “What’s the old joke about economists predicting nine of the last five recessions? I remember going through five, or nine, in my career, and they seem a lot different now. For one thing, they used to come more frequently. For another, there were certain clear steps that followed one after the other: Consumer spending would slow, marketers would notice, cut their ad spend, media would react, shrink issues or run more PSA’s in place of paid spots, etc. etc.

Now, marketers are trimming budgets without necessarily reducing their marketing — in that a dozen new-media campaigns can cost (a lot) less than the same amount of ads in traditional media. Also, everything is watched in real time now and is linked to markets and economies around the world 24/7. it takes a minute for a “bad” stat in Washington to send the Dow plunging and then a few hours later to get Tokyo to tank, the DAX to dive and so forth. Advice? All I can say is diversify, try to offer potential clients a little bit of everything and maybe one of those offerings will be the one they want that keeps the agency doors open.”

4. Agencies are often losing out when it comes to billing to their clients. IP agreements and pay for performance schemes have gotten a ton of buzz this year. Do you believe that this is the future for advertising agencies? And if so, how can these agencies create such a dynamic shift with their clients?

Elliot: “Clearly the path is from commissions to fees to performance-based compensation. Not sure anyone can swim against that tide. The goal should maybe be to make sure everyone agrees on the definitions of what the campaign is to accomplish in order to determine how to get paid for play.”

5. Goodby Silverstein was named agency of the year by both AdAge and AdWeek. If you had to name your agency of the year who would it be?

Elliot: “The consumer.”

6. Are there any agencies whom you feel are executing particularly ground breaking work?

Elliot: “Hard to answer. There are an awful lot of individuals projects, campaigns, ads, that I think are interesting, worth covering, fascinating to watch in terms of how they seek to use the new media, viral, guerrilla, Facebook, MySpace, (insert buzz word here) to sell stuff. Whether I can say, Yes, this agency is better at it than most others, hmmmm….not sure.”

7. Finally, with your overarching view point on the industry, what lessons do you think advertising agencies could learn from other business sectors?

Elliot: “I think it would benefit agencies to be more open to what is going on in other businesses, especially the creative arts, but I think many have realized that already and are opening their doors to unconventional thinking and nontraditional employees.”