Ad agencies aren’t playgrounds for big kids with oversized egos. At least not ours, and hopefully not yours.

Sure, we may not wear a suit and tie into the office every day (never confuse fashion with brainpower- Albert Einstein reportedly owned 7 identical black suits and wore them in rotation) and our offices may look cooler than yours- but, advertising is serious business.

Screwing up advertising can kill a business- if you have any doubt- look at what the SuperBowl spot for the shoe retailer “Just for feet” accomplished (if you haven’t heard of “Just for feet” it’s because they went out of business soon after. There is a reason to test ads and do research- but that is another subject- with its pros and cons.

This spot has been removed from youtube, This is the only place I can find it: http://adland.tv/commercials/just-feet-kenya-mission-1999-030-usa

Agency.com thought they’d try to be hip by releasing a video on You Tube (above) about their process to prep for a pitch to Subway. They thought it would be a “viral”- meaning it would be passed around and watched- and that they would be uber cool- except, they ended up looking like kids with oversized egos on a playground.

Recently, I was a judge in the American Advertising Federation student competition– and my impression is that the worst student teams showed more insight than the people at Agency.com

Yes, the video is getting watched, yes, I’m writing about it, and no, it’s not worth all of this attention- other than as an example of how not to prepare for a pitch- or what to bring. It’s mostly getting watched by other ad types- and then mocked.

You can read much more about it on Adrants:
Adrants » Agency.com Has Hipster Orgasm On YouTube

There was on comment that I thought needed to be shared- from someone who calls themselves “Pitch Consultant” (we have a list of advertising agency review consultants on our site if you happen to be looking for one) sharing some insight into what to look for in an agency search- and what to avoid:

Here is yet another example where stupid ad agency people, who obviously were in the middle-lower Bell curve in school, seem to think enthusiasm is more important than intelligence.Is there an insight into how the interactive medium can add value to the physical offering in a way that will build frequency and loyalty, increase check size and same-store sales? A analysis of potential challenges the brand is having on a store-to-store up to national level? Any demonstration that the people at Agency.com understand the fast-food business operationally? How money is made? The role of communications channels? Anything that the clients, who have undoubtedly spent many more hours in different stores, might not have heard before?

Nope. Just a bunch of idiots who walked down the street in midtown Manhattan, stole jobs from entry-level service workers for a day, insulted passers-by, and otherwise did NOTHING to indicate any potential for being anything other than wacky asshole hipsters who condescend to the brand, those that work there, and those who eat there, and certainly aren’t there to make Subway a more successful business. The sad part is that they seem incapable of the shame they should feel.

A ‘passionate’ moron is still a moron. Hire some smart people, Agency. They cost a little more, but you don’t have to buy as many sandwiches or resort to pathetic crap like this.

This is one of the reasons you shouldn’t expect instant results from an ad agency- it takes time to learn your business and your customers. Great advertising solutions don’t typically come on the first campaign, they come later. Wieden + Kennedy didn’t come up with “just do it” for Nike until they had been the agency for a number of years.

Agencies need to fully understand your brand DNA to make a meaningful campaign- or have a radically different approach to communicating with the marketplace. If you are wondering why Crispin Porter + Bogusky keeps hitting home runs, it’s often because they find an exploitable niche that hasn’t been spoken to, and capitalizes on the opening. Hence Mini owners were asked to think of their cars as a personal escape tool with “let’s motor” and Burger King is now the place for the “Meathead” male, aged 18-25 who is most likely to eat fast food 4-5 times per week.

One of the main problems with the Subway account is that the client is splitting up the duties between differnt agencies. Online is just another medium, and if your agency can’t supply the complete message delivery package you should consider another agency.

Subway has been notoriously hard on their ad agencies, with many lawsuits between the franchises and the franchise holder. It’s doubtful that there is an environment for a mutually beneficial relationship between an agency and this client no matter how smart the agency is.

After years of growth, Subway is facing it’s first serious national competition from Quizno’s and others. And while Subway has made great strides in variety of offerings and has become more competitive in hot subs, they have a long way to go when it comes to making their brand relevant.

Could the right agency help contribute to Subway’s success in the market? Absolutely.

Would they come up with the solution in a few days, over subs as portrayed by the people at Agency.com in their video- absolutely not.

I’m not sure if Agency.com was paid to pitch the account- but, there is a lot to be said for “you get what you pay for” and spec campaigns from agencies invited to pitch are the last way you should pick your agency or your strategy.

Our first question to clients is always “what makes you the most money” and how do we maximize that. If you are interested in what the rest of the questions are- call us.