That news seemed like as good a time as any to return to my column, for the foreseeable future.
I’m sure you’re all way more informed than I am. No doubt, I am coming very late to this party. But when I heard the news that those two giant ad groups were merging, the only word I could bring forth from my filthy mouth was the four-letter one I so heavily rely upon. Day in. Day out.
It can mean many things. Just like “fuggedaboutit” in Donnie Brasco (a vastly unappreciated movie) means everything from “Raquel Welch is one great piece of ass” to “a Lincoln is better than a Cadillac,” fuck can mean many things to me.
And in this case, it means, “well, there goes the fucking industry.”
The healthy spirit of competition is one of the factors that drives people to do great work. It’s not the only reason, but it’s out there. “Christ, we have to do better work than Dipshit, Dickhead and Douche or we’ll never win this account.”
It’s also a way to encourage differing perspectives and creative approaches. Some agencies thrive when they're working on certain accounts, like booze or cars. Others, they’re more into health-conscious clients and environmentally friendly products.
Now, with Omnicom and Publicis merging, there is even less choice out there.
For the record, Omnicom owns:
DDB Worldwide (including Tribal Worldwide)
TBWA\ Worldwide (which in turn owns Integer, Being, DAN, Tequila and a bunch more)
Goodby, Silberstein & Partners
Martin | Williams
Merkley & Partners
Roberts + Langer
Plus dozens of customer relation management firms, media firms and more.
They own a fucking lot.
Now, they’re merging with Publicis. They own over 1,200 agencies around the world including:
Leo Burnett Worldwide
Saatchi & Saatchi
Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Burrell Communications Group
And again, another bunch of agencies too numerous to mention here.
Anyone scared or dismayed, yet?
With one group controlling so much of the advertising, marketing and media in the world, where will the diversity come from?
Where will we see the new ideas? The ones that challenge convention and break with the established order of things?
Where will real creativity emerge?
The simple answer is, it won’t. Or at least, it won't have the same chance.
As the advertising world becomes more and more homogenized, the solutions offered will become just as bland.
Big companies will not see the need to shop around for the best digital agencies, the best media, the best public relations, and the best advertising shops. Why should they? Now, in the MegaOmniPubliCom Advertising Warehouse, it’s all under one enormous fucking roof.
It’s like the Costco in Mike Judge’s Idiocracy, where you can buy shit sofas, Starbucks handjobs and law degrees without ever venturing past the broken front door.
Want media? We got it. Want digital? We got that too. Advertising? No problem. Events? Easy. Want to spend less time assembling a diverse, creative and powerful network of agencies to service your corporation? No problem. Just give the MegaOmniPubliCom Advertising Warehouse your business, and go play 18 rounds of golf. We’ve got your back.
This is just what the agency world didn’t need. The smaller, more creative shops still managing to scrape a living will be hard-pressed to offer the range of services that the MegaOmniPubliCom Advertising Warehouse can offer. They will have a difficult time matching responsiveness and price, too.
Just like conglomerates pushed out small businesses in our towns and cities, so too will this massive merger spell the end for the boutique shops who cannot compete with this kind of assault.
All we need now is for WPP to join the party, and we can pack up everything and go home. A bunch of rich fat cats will get richer, ad agencies will report to the same overpaid bosses, and the chance to do some breakthrough work will dry up faster than Paris Hilton’s pussy at a World of Warcraft convention.
With all the agencies out there, it may seem like we have a ton of choices. But with so few people actually pulling the strings, all we really have is the illusion of choice.
The advertising industry will pump out the same controlled messages that the media currently dishes out from just a few outlets.
And before you know it, we’re all insignificant cogs in one enormous advertising machine. Its only goal…to mass-produce mediocrity and reward those at the top with paychecks they couldn’t spend in ten lifetimes.
Felix is a site contributor, ranter and curmudgeon for The Denver Egotist. He’s been in the ad game a long time, but he’s still young enough to know he doesn’t know everything. If he uses the f-bomb from time-to-time, forgive him. Sometimes, when you're ranting, no other word will do. In his spare time, he does not torture small animals. He's been known, on occasion, to drink alcohol by the gallon. Do as he says, not as he does.