Holy shit, we made it through another 12 months.
A quick story to start. Toward the end of this year, the CMO of a big fast food chain that’s famous for its marketing stunts greeted one of us for the first time in Adweek’s offices by shaking our hand and asking fervently, “Why don’t you read the comments?!?”
This was probably a reference to something we said on a podcast, but at any rate, we still get lots of comments about the comments, even 18 months after they disappeared. The guy in question, who won some pretty big awards this year, told us that he always loved to read them because he found more honesty there than anywhere else when it came to the endless online discussion about advertising.
We’d like to think this blog remained somewhat relevant in 2018, even as those comments stayed gone, Fishbowl and Diet Madison Avenue blew up, and we all but stopped actively updating things for a couple of months before figuring out the right blend of posts and stories and #content impressions for our separate but sometimes(?) overlapping audiences. You guys were always reliable with your complaints, though, so thanks for that.
Anyway, as you all know, it was a rough year. We predicted as much at the end of 2018, and this one did indeed bring all manner of conflict and calamity, with agencies finding plenty of time for account shifts and layoffs while competing for those project-based assignments.
One thing this year saw quite a bit of was executive-level firings–and no, they weren’t all men. However you may now feel about Diet Madison Avenue, the group exerted a huge influence over the calendar year. After the departure of The Martin Agency chief creative Joe Alexander last December, 2018 became the year #MeToo finally arrived as the industry maybe, finally began to grapple with endemic abuses of power. As a W+K London spokesperson put it when the agency fired chief strategy officer Paul Colman in January, “If harassment or inappropriate conduct is reported, a timely investigation is conducted, and if a violation is found to have occurred, appropriate corrective action is taken.”
DMA attracted more than its share of controversy as well, with some female agency veterans publishing a letter in opposition and former CP+B CCO Ralph Watson filing a civil defamation lawsuit in May that essentially forced the group underground.
On a completely different note, 2018 also saw the end of many things for the industry’s largest holding company.
Martin Sorrell ended his reign at WPP, stepping down amidst an investigation into allegations that he used company funds on a prostitute. Sorrell, who continues to deny everything, soon re-emerged with S4 Capital and outbid WPP to acquire digital production company MediaMonks. Then came Mark Read‘s official takeover in September, followed by the mergers of legacy agency Y&R with VML and J. Walter Thompson with Wunderman to create VMLY&R and Wunderman Thompson, respectively. In another, even more important shift, WPP issued a new policy this year to ensure “safe consumption of alcohol” at work events. And an Omnicom executive in Canada lost his job for failing to follow the same sort of rules.
All this aside, a few examples of great advertising somehow came out in 2018. 360i’s “The Maze” for Westworld and W+K’s “Dream Crazy” for Nike made rival agencies particularly jealous. Incredible, right??
Now that we’ve summed it all up, these are AgencySpy’s 20 biggest posts of 2018. If the top story taught us anything, it was that people are very intrigued by the concept of working less.
Here’s to doing just that in 2019. Or, you know, switching industries.