Shift Comm. Principal Todd Defren: ‘Many’ Ad Agencies ‘Don’t Understand Social Media’

In a blog post titled, “(Many) Advertising Agencies (Still) Don’t Understand Social Media,” Shift Communications Principal Todd Defren writes, “…the new Stella Artois campaign [Editor’s note: video posted above.] struck me as such a perfect example of how some Advertising agencies take a bone-headed, campaign-is-king approach to Social Media…”

Defren adds a bunch of caveats at the beginning of his post, mainly that he has friends in advertising, and that many ad agencies are good at integrating social media into their work.

So then what was the point of the post? Using one campaign to paint a broad stroke on an industry could be considered a bit much, as many commenters on Defren’s post said.

When PRNewser spoke with Defren over email today, he said that the agency landscape is a complicated environment, and that there are numerous client engagements when Shift may have worked with an ad agency, or was brought in to clean up an ad agency’s mess, or did not work with an ad agency at all.

Particularly of note is that Shift Communications recently lost a PR/Social agency of record pitch for Century 21 Real Estate to an ad agency: Mullen. To their credit, they’ve also recently won big accounts like Quiznos.

Defren’s salvo is nothing new.

Edelman CEO Richard Edelman wrote in August 2006, “I think that the presumption has been that ad agencies act as coordinators of multiple communications disciplines. I intend to challenge that notion. There are times when PR should lead.”

Let the debate continue.