"Stop selling the snake oil". Let's break convention in 2016

As we are coming out of the glitziest few months on the media calendar – peak sell time - the mystique of the upfront, it’s time to reflect. We have been wined and dined. We have been wowed with amazing new content.  We have rubbed shoulders with the talent, and we have been convinced that there is a new and exciting way to buy. It’s all got me thinking.

This year’s shows were impressive. But, we talk about running when really we are shuffling. We are trying to make sense of the new world, but being held back by convention and the old way of doing things.  Don’t read on if you are expecting me to have the answer. I don’t. But what I do want is to talk about it, as an industry. Let’s work out a way to move forward faster, together. 

And it’s not just TV land that poses this problem.  Tech, data, targeting, even outdoor is falling into the trap.

More and more, we are sold the dream …. data this, multi that, tech innovation, integration, etc etc.  It all sounds amazing, until the rubber needs to hit the road.  Then, 9 times out of 10, the deliverable product is nothing like the dream. It’s light years away. Don’t get me wrong, I love to be challenged, I love to be sold to.  I love to hear about the future of advertising. I want nothing more than to be the first. Or to get there the fastest.  But I also love being able to do it. Actually bring it to life to grow a client’s business. 

So, my message to the market is stop selling the snake oil. Sell what we can do now or by a definitive timeframe, and let’s learn together.  The solution doesn’t have to be perfect – especially if you have clients that trust you.  Let’s go on the journey together – media, agency and client - and make a bit of a mess, take calculated risks, go in the right direction, but craft as we go. 

Don’t sell me a deluxe whopper and then serve me a boring junior burger.  Be honest about the pipeline of development so we can be honest with our clients.  We understand it’s not always going to be perfect.  Share the risk, so everyone feels comfortable and has some skin in the game.  Develop solutions alongside us, not in isolation. 

We also need to get better as agencies; there is no question of that.  Better briefing, more upstream information.  Being more open to proactive ideas that are not perfectly formed but have a spark of something. And when following through with the dreaded feedback – be generous with it and provide it regularly, even when it’s hard. 

In 2016, let’s break some shit together.  Learn from it and get to the future fast.  We owe it to our clients and the industry.


Author: Pia Coyle, Head of Media Services, Ikon Communications Sydney