Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Big, yes. But dumb

In 1966, Hertz ran one of the toughest counter punches in advertising history.

For a few years, they’d watched Avis claim ‘we’re number two, so we try harder.’

Hertz eventually decided enough is enough. Or maybe it was that they finally figured out how to respond. The gist was this:

“For years, Avis has been telling you we’re number one. Here’s why we’re number one.”

The ads went on to absolutely steamroller the Avis argument. Hertz is number one because Hertz has more cars to choose from, at more locations, with a better service guarantee, etc etc.

Avis stuck with their message, but it never again had that same valiant tang to it.

So to Big Dumb Agencies. That’s what little companies like ours are supposed to call the big guys. But we don’t.

Not because we don’t think there’s room for improvement, there and everywhere else. Everyone agrees on that.

It’s just that to call time on the most successful machines in the industry is to misunderstand what they do for a living.

Here’s a quote from Ad Age, regarding the rumored split between Chrysler and their agency. Chrysler is “cutting back on the broad scope of services BBDO provides, including dealer training, call centers, point-of-sale materials and database management.”

Dealer training and call center management. Let’s call an all-agency meeting in the kitchen and get right on that, yeah?

The fact is, big agencies are big for a reason. Because big is the right answer for a lot of marketers. Someone has to do all that heavy lifting.

Now, is big the only answer? Can big and small co-habit? Those are different questions. First things first… let’s understand and appreciate why the big agencies are the way they are.

Image by ethomsen

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