True Colors

If there were an advertising hall of fame like the baseball shrine in Cooperstown, Helmut Krone would have been inducted long ago, and he would have worn a Doyle Dane Bernbach jersey to the ceremony. So would Bob Gage, Bob Levenson and countless others. David Ogilvy would have worn Ogilvy red. Upon his induction, Lee Clow would no doubt be sporting a TBWAChiatDay jersey.

It’s difficult to separate these creative greats from the teams they played for, and vice versa. It’s hard to imagine one without the other. The agencies and the individuals are synonymous.

Which leads to an interesting question: What jerseys would the creative superstars of today wear to their induction ceremony?

Would Tracy Wong have an Ogilvy, Goldsmith/Jeffrey, Goodby or WongDoody uniform?

Would Jamie Barrett wave the colors of Wieden, Fallon or Goodby?

Would David Angelo struggle over the decision to wear Chiat, Team One, Cliff Freeman or david andgoliath garb? Or would he wear a patchwork number with colors from them all?

Nothing against these guys, their work or their careers. I love them all. It’s more a statement about the current state of our industry.

Advertising is always referred to as a team sport. But, just as in professional sports, it’s become difficult, if not impossible, to build dynasties. Why is that? Are any of the above names as synonymous with a particular agency as Helmut Krone is with Doyle Dane Bernbach? Or Lee Clow with Chiat?

Have we all, for the most part, become free agents?

As baseball has taught us, you can build a pretty good team around free agents. But do these teams have the staying power to make a lasting difference, the kind of difference that teams like DDB and Chiat have made in advertising? Time will tell.

Great advertising agencies, like great baseball teams, transcend individuals because they’re built on strong cultures, beliefs and principles. In the ’60s, dynasties were built, in sports and advertising, on a foundation of loyalty and opportu nity. The playing field has definitely changed.

Money has played a big role. The prevailing formula these days is to spend money on talent to reinforce an organization built on a strong foundation and culture. Without that solid foundation, however, money does nothing more than create another Baltimore Orioles. Say what you want about the New York Yankees, but the money they spend is layered on top of a culture, heritage and set of principles that create winners. Derek Jeter is not a free agent. He is a Yankee.

Creative people have always been a somewhat transient lot. It’s in their DNA. And, believe me, while I’m definitely against a salary cap and all for independence and free-agent status, I’d also like to see a few more dynasties, a few more great teams.

It’s those teams that always have and always will change and revolutionize our industry.