WHAT DOES AN AGENCY SELL? CREATIVE?

For most of the 20th century, I think agencies would say they sold a creative product. It’s all about the ‘work,’ and everyone would talk about the ‘work’ and commit to selling more great ‘work’ for the agency. I’m often amazed at how much my early career looked like an episode of Mad Men, complete with inner-office romances, but it truly was that simple for a long time. The client had a problem, and the agency would go through its elaborate process to come back with a bespoke solution that naturally had creative ‘work’ associated with it, and the account teams would make sure to stay close to the client over the years and solve every issue that might come up with more creative ‘work.’ The problems with this scenario are many. Let’s set aside the fact that today’s complicated, consumer-driven, multi-platform environment makes selling creative ‘work’ vastly oversimplified. The real problem with this assumption is that it is product driven, it’s not client driven. It focuses on what the agency makes and not what the client buys.

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