In the recent special double issue of Newsweek magazine (3/26/12 and 4/2/12) celebrating Mad Men and the 1960s golden age of advertising, Nick Summers analyzes the tremendous changes in advertising due to social media (“Click This Ad Already!” pp. 58–64).  Summers’ piece includes a sidebar that refers to Robert Wong, an employee at Google’s Creative Lab.  Considering the excellent work produced, Summers observes, “You don’t need an agency to create great advertising” (p. 61).

I agree with Summers you don’t need an agency to create great advertising, but I will tweak his statement just a bit: It depends.

I have seen advertising agencies do excellent work and poor work.  I have seen in-house people do excellent work and poor work.  If you use an agency, it all depends on how good that agency is and how well that agency genuinely captures the client’s heart.  On the other hand, if a company forgoes the agency approach, opting instead to create its own advertising and marketing, then it all depends on the nature of its in-house talent.

Let the buyer beware?  No!  Rather, let the buyer be deeply introspective.

Such deep introspection must reveal the good, the bad, and the ugly of the company’s in-house talent.  It must also reveal the company’s blind spots, which by definition may be an impossible task.  So the buyer can beware (that’s always good), but the buyer had better be deeply introspective (that’s even more important).

That introspection will lead that company to the best approach.  Some companies desperately need an agency.  Other companies can do just fine alone.

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Johnson Controls at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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