I wanted to react to the ‘Adweek’ survey, but …

Re: “How You Size Up the Competition” [May 2]: I was planning on responding to the results of your junior-high popularity contest, but I was busy working till 4 a.m. on the worst reel in all of advertising. Besides, I was feeling rather complacent and couldn’t find any good new hires to help me out. And on top of that, the whole idea seemed all too risky.

Sean Burns

Vp, associate creative director


New York

Arnold’s D’Arcy column hits all the right notes

I really appreciated Tim Arnold’s column about the demise of D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles [“Forks in the Road,” A&C, April 25]. It provides readers, professionals and students of marketing communications alike with meaningful insights and lessons on career development, industry trends over the past few decades, as well as individual challenges we all face in life.

I, too, met “Larry” and Roy and worked with them just before they sold D’Arcy. During this period, I was working on the client side. We had to “restructure” our resources and move the strategy, management and creative parts of the business in-house for a number of reasons. (We kept the media planning and buying with them.) It had more to do with the changing nature of our business needs and the communications environment than lack of attention or effort. These changes continue to threaten “dinosaur agencies” as clients’ and consumers’ needs evolve. They were smart to sell and get out when they did.

And I worked at more than one agency where the leaders, to maximize client and staff loyalty, swore they would never sell “our special agency.” Yes, the owners sold, cashed in and left the business. While I have not been in that sort of position myself, I can say a few things about how I have felt about this over the years:

• It’s tough to start a business, hone a competitive edge and sustain growth in such a dynamic field. “Ownership rewards” are well deserved.

• Sharing rewards with loyal staff is always subject to numerous perspectives on what is “fair.” Nevertheless, from my perspective, I have seen more greed than fairness.

• The passions and ethics that nurture the birth of great agencies are subject to the ravages of time, fear, greed and abuse. Sadly, the clients these businesses are built to serve are often the last to benefit from significant transitions in ownership.

I don’t think “Larry” is necessarily smarter for the path he has taken.

I will share this article with a class that I teach called “Strategy & Creativity in Today’s Marketplace,” part of the master’s degree program in strategic communications at Columbia University.

Robert S. Gibralter

President, GMWW Inc.

Lecturer, Columbia University

New York

Dan is right about new business, and procurement complicates it

The recent column by Avi Dan [“Fixing New Business,” A&C, April 25] raises some very valid points regarding how agencies are pursing new business.

As agency search consultants, we find numerous instances in which agencies will pursue pieces of new business that are not appropriate to the resources and skill set of the agency. For example, we are inundated with requests from a small agency located in the heartland, carrying only general communication capabilities, seeking to be included in $100 million-plus Rx/DTC reviews. Many new-business directors feel that going after everything that is “on the street” improves their chances of acquiring new clients. Not only is this wasteful thinking, but it also contributes to burnout, low morale and cost inefficiencies. Too often, current clients are not serviced to the fullest because key personnel are diverting their attention to new-business pitches. Organic growth is the quickest way to improve revenue.

The entire business development landscape has been complicated by the introduction of client procurement management in the decision-making process. Smart agencies will educate themselves on what procurement seeks, what their language is and how to develop relationships with this management arm. Business development needs to focus on these issues for both organic and new-client growth. This should be perceived as an opportunity, not a deterrent to agency profits. Quite often we hear that procurement only looks for the lowest price. This is not correct. They look for the value equation, rather than price/cost, which has always been the traditional agency financial business model. A few suggestions for the proactive agency are to develop a separate set of credentials for procurement, which would be an ideal selling piece, repackage existing agency metrics into Six Sigma doctrine and learn to apply real time and value analysis (to get rid of the waste) to your agency mantra. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Due to procurement’s involvement in agency contract negotiations, we anticipate that more new business will be in play. Today’s new-business hunt is quite different from that of the last decade. Agencies should not lose sight of where the opportunities lie.

Alan Krinsky


Alan Krinsky Associates

New York

If nothing else, DQ’s ‘Harmonica’ spot is unique and on target

While I normally agree with Barbara Lippert’s opinions and look forward to her observations as a quick reality check, I have to disagree with her assessment of DQ’s harmonica spot [“A Real Mouthful,” May 9].

Given the wealth of unoriginal, tasteless and sophomoric ideas that reach broadcast, I found the DQ effort wry and distinctly unique. Gross? When is eating a 3,000-calorie burger in a land with a child-obesity problem not gross? And appetites in America are out of control. It’s certainly no more gross than an ad for a gas-guzzlin’ SUV or trucks that jump fire-lined ditches. Before I get into real trouble, I agree that DQ’s recent work isn’t as good as their earlier efforts, and honestly this one is just an OK spot at best. But it is better than much of what passes muster as good.

At the very least, the ad is on target—the minds behind the recent “Wake up with the King” spots for Burger King seem to have forgotten that clowns scare the crap out of most people and that obscure “inside” jokes don’t always catch on with a mass audience.

Christopher Passehl


Christopher Passehl Graphic Design

Deep River, Conn.

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