Walk the halls of any good creative agency and the lament you’ll hear is the same. “Why can’t we be paid based on how good we are?”
You won’t hear this from the larger, more traditional shops. No, being paid based on the number of people assigned to the account, multiplied by the number of hours worked, is just fine with them. Heaven forbid being paid based on the quality of the creative execution.
Risky proposition, that.
Unless, of course, you’re good at what you do.
So, excusing the behemoths from the discussion, let’s focus on those who are confident enough in their ability to create work that's interesting enough to involve a viewer or two.
Why are they—Goodby Silverstein and Partners, Wieden + Kennedy, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, alright, we’ll also throw in TBWA/Chiat Day out of respect for Lee Clow—why are they not demanding that they be paid commensurate to what they can deliver?
Digital data now allows this to happen on both online and VOD/DVR platforms.
After all, it only seems right that if the work doesn’t involve the viewer, advertisers should be able to pay their agencies less for failure. Conversely, if the data shows that the creative was involving, agencies should be paid handsomely for success.
How do we define handsomely? Two to three times as much as they would normally make seems fair to us.
So, why aren’t the more creative agencies demanding this?
Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein, the founders of their shop GSP, are both disciples of Howard “Luck” Gossage, an iconoclastic ad man from San Francisco. Howard believed that to involve the reader was not just the job, but also the responsibility, of advertising.
If Howard were alive today, and knowing how much he wanted to bring respect to a business that had little, he no doubt would have been one of the first to say, “Now, that seems a f-f-fair way to earn a b-b-buck.” (Howard, you see, had a bit of a stammer.)
Your agency, Jeff and Rich, has the chance to bring that philosophy into video. To have viewers who are interested, opt-in to your brand stories. And, since you’re not restricted to thirty seconds on the digital platform, these stories can be as long as you’re able to make them interesting.
I know that you believe in the idea of story. And you create very good ones. So why not tell your client that you want to be paid for creative based on how well viewers get involved in the story?
What is your client going to say? No?
After all, what you are basically saying is that you will be accountable for your creative product. If the story isn’t involving, well, you will make very little. But if you’re successful, it’s a win/win/win.
The client gets a more involving commercial. You get more money. And viewers get commercials actually worth watching.
Granted, it won’t be easy. For a creative person to know when their work has become boring is difficult. Left to their own devices, it’s hard to separate the shit from the shinola. It will take someone with a good crap detector to say, “I’d stop there.”
After all, when viewers stop watching, the agency stops making money.
As for Crispin, your current Burger King creative, where the Whopper is taken away, is simply brilliant. People can’t take their eyes off it. So much so that it has the highest advertising recall numbers ever logged by IAG Research in the six years that the firm has been tracking audience responses to TV commercials.
That said, I bet you left some money on the table on that one, didn’t you? The creative fee was probably covered under your retainer. It had nothing to do with how good the work was.
Imagine if you were paid based on involvement.
So, maybe it’s time for a few shops to step up and put their creative where their mouth is. If you want to be the best, then actually be paid for proving that you are.
Advertisers are ready. At least, some. There are still those out there saying, “Hold on a second. I don’t pay my agency for involvement. I pay them for sales.”
In the past, you did. But in the digital marketplace, how a sale goes down is a very different process.
As research is showing, there is a direct correlation between sales and the amount of time spent with a brand. In the digital economy, your job as a marketer, is to increase the amount of time spent with your brand across the various touchpoints.
Simply because while time is finite—there are only 24-hours in a day—the number of choices for viewers is becoming infinite. The more time you can get a viewer/reader to spend with your brand, the less time they will have to spend with the competitor's brand.
Your agency’s job is to create that time-spent for you
Pay them well when they do.
Success has little choice but to follow.