In my personal experience as an entrepreneur and a vocal activist of the advertising fraternity, I feel that there is a lot to be desired. This does not mean that we have not achieved anything worthwhile, but an honest introspection does make me feel disappointed at the present state.
Let me explain why. The advertising industry has been growing constantly in the past two decades or so, as I see more and more ads in traditional and digital media every day. Despite the overall growth in the industry in terms of advertising spend, addition of more advertising agencies and human resources, I still find the industry to be erratic and in disarray to a very high extent. Our creative, in most cases, is below par and our quality of work, highly inconsistent.
The world of digital has brought with it some challenges that we had not seen earlier. The advent of digital agencies and continuous struggle for the traditional agency structure to evolve along with changing media realities, has been daunting to say the least. The process of evolution tells us that no matter how much we fight to keep the status quo, change is the only constant. For us, the reality is in our face and it is telling us how much we need to re-configure and re-structure our working relationship, yet I don’t see the urgency in our actions.
I strongly believe that leadership, in an advertising agency, like any other business is the key to setting the direction for the future. When I look around, I see a lot of time being spent on getting business and initially on developing executional campaigns, but what I don’t see is the desired leadership or down the line communication of the purpose of the organization or its priorities towards business, people, the industry and community. Let me tell you from personal experience that these are not buzz words. These are life lines for an advertising business to create alignment, across the organization and create common and shared priorities.
In case you are thinking, ok so we do all the above then what? Well when we do these crucial actions, they must be further expanded upon. The organization must invest in plans and programs that lead to actions supporting their purpose. It involves investment in people, in HR policies and procedures, in accountability of action, in support to causes that align with the purpose and the list goes on. I don’t think that there are many advertising agencies that even have manuals containing HR policies, leave aside the other items listed above.
How can excellence be achieved when we are not committed to our business and ourselves? The way we ignore driving in lanes, we are also avoiding processes that are mandatory for developing campaigns. We need to rise above mediocrity and show character in building organizations that can compete at least regionally and then globally. It’s time that we take responsibility through actions that back our words.