Is Bigger Really Better?

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The Publicis-Omnicom merger is the talk of ad land right now. Agencies big and small are discussing the ramifications of the merger of the two giants. Some ad mavens say this majorly changes the advertising game and others say that it’s all smoke and mirrors. Questions about agency size are rampant: Is bigger really better? What does the merger mean for smaller agencies? Are smaller agencies doomed to fail?

On one side we have the argument that a larger network enables agencies to provide high quality services; on the other side, we have the argument that smaller shops are more nimble, innovative, and flat out produce better results. Wieden of Wieden+Kennedy fame even went on record recently  to assert that small is beautiful.

It’s really difficult to objectively say which argument prevails. I can, however, objectively measure the creative results of agencies through publications like Communication Arts. I decided to do just that using the 2012 list of winners. The results? 66 percent  of awards were from agencies that were part of a large network. 34 percent were from smaller agencies that were not part of a large network and that had under 200 employees.

Now, this makes it seem like large networks have ‘won,’ but we also have to take into account certain discrepancies.  Firstly, large networks bring in billions of dollars of revenue. Surely, larger agencies are producing more work, therefore giving them more of a chance to receive awards. Secondly, we also have to account for all the offices within a network that operate like creative boutiques or idea incubators (I.E. Google Creative Lab).

When you decide to include smaller agencies that are part of a larger network, the results are absolutely stunning. More than half of all awards in Communication Arts end up coming from small agencies.  That’s not even taking into account agencies like Wieden+Kennedy, a large agency that tries to think like a smaller agency. Proving that, at least when it comes to creative, it doesn’t hurt to ‘Think small.’

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The Era of Emotional Advertising is Upon Us

I absolutely adore advertising. I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I didn’t. But ask me a few months ago if I thought that advertising was a form of true art, and I would’ve said no.

You see, to me, art in its highest form is transcendence from the material. It’s the closest one can get to connecting the desires and emotional state of the inside mind with the outside world.  Advertising is created with the express purpose of selling a product or service–materialism–therefore it leaves little room to be defined as art the way I think of it.

However, I feel that the past year has reiterated a sort of transcendence for advertising in and of itself.  Is advertising’s end goal still to sell stuff? Of course, but companies have increasingly been willing to use advertising as a vehicle that speaks to the human condition. And a year of emotionally driven  advertising has reminded me that advertising can indeed be a form of high art.

All this emotional advertising seems to have started a little over a year ago with “Halftime in America“, a commercial for Chrysler by Wieden + Kennedy. The commercial aired during the Super Bowl and spoke directly to a country that, like Chrysler, was down and out. Beautifully written and executed, “Halftime in America”  silenced rooms across the country. Afterwards, other emotionally charged ads  like “Farmer” for Dodge RAM and “Thank You Mom” for P&G appeared.

These ads prove that companies are waking up to the fact that it pays to brand human. Playing to emotions creates brand advocates and it’s good for the bottom line. People don’t want to open their wallet for a giant mega corporation richer than a country, they want to open their wallet to someone that gets them on the most basic level.

4 Recent Ads that Will Make You Cry (With Joy)

1. “Nana” for Cheerios by Saatchi & Saatchi NY

2. “A Letter to Mom” for Famous Footwear by Y&R

3. “The Animal Family” for Skype by Pereira & O’Dell

4.  “Made for Mankind” for Acura by Mullen