Ann Fudge is just what the agency world needs

The continued negative reaction of the agency community to the hiring of Ann Fudge to run Young & Rubicam [“Stranger in a Strange Land,” June 16] serves to point out how badly the industry has lost its way.

In the last analysis, an agency’s role is, and always has been, to add value to clients’ businesses. In the 1960s and ’70s, advertising’s heyday, perhaps, value was leveraging the megareach of network television to take advantage of the voracious consumer appetite to consume brands. Sadly, those days are gone. Today, value is understanding the increasingly complex total business environment our clients are forced to deal with. Wall Street, media fragmentation, frenetic consumer lifestyles and the consolidation of retail are requiring new skill sets and thinking. Advertising agencies have “lost their seat at the table” because they refuse to come to grips with this new reality.

The saddest commentary on the state of the business is the quote from Y&R vice chairman and former CEO Ed Ney: “We’re not the protagonists. We’re a service company.” Well, that’s exactly how clients are looking at agencies today.

If you keep doing what you are doing, you are going to keep getting what you are getting. Ann Fudge understands the business of business. She is going to be great. Once again, Martin Sorrell has demonstrated a willingness to take risks and think outside the box. After all, that’s what the agency business is about. Or is it?
Jon Kramer
J. Brown/LMC Group
Stamford, Conn.

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