This just annoyed me

Here’s the situation.

I am a co-owner of a Chicago advertising agency named The Escape Pod.

We do some of the best advertising in the city.

How do I know this?

Because people keep telling us we do. and we won the “best in show” award a couple of years back in the chicago ad awards.

And this year, we, the comparatively tiny Escape Pod, had more finalists in the Cannes advertising competition than any of our behemoth competitors.

We are talking BILLIONS OF DOLLARS in billings here.

Leo Burnett and DDB CHICAGO and DRAFTFCB are about as big as it gets.

Yet somehow they managed to be so uninteresting, as to be waaaay less interesting than us?

Because that what it amounts to.

Their work was meh!

And ours, by comparison, wasn’t meh!

We were more exciting on some level.

That was the decision of the 2011 Cannes jury.

Now that doesn’t make me chest-puffingly proud.

Being better than meh! is not the greatest boast.

But apparently it’s the case.

Now, imagine you’re a Chicago business reporter.

And it’s your assignment to write a story about the Chicago advertising scene.

Where you gonna look?

At the new exciting flavor or at the old weak sauce flavors?

Well this guy went for the old weak sauce flavors.

And guess what was in the first sentence he wrote?

A reference to my now decade-old work that i did at my old agency.

The good old Budweiser Whassup! campaign.

That was me. I did that one.

I haven’t worked at that agency for six years.

Yet this reporter chooses to continue to follow the arcs of these fading comets?

Yet another story about how these guys can’t get a decent ad out the door despite getting hundreds of opportunities to get it right each year.

That’s making the Chicago ad industry look real good in the eyes of national clients.

Nice job guys!

And you’re in the image business? That’s just embarrassing.

Please tell me you didn’t solicit this story. Please tell me this wasn’t intended to promote your brand, and by extension the brand of the Chicago ad industry.

Read it here. But only if you hate me!

18 responses to “This just annoyed me

  1. Yeah Vinnie the focus only on the big guys sucks a bit, but then again they are doing a lot to try and rebuild and I applaud that. Your work has always been brilliant and you deserve the credit. I would like to see this town get behind a real creative community that focuses on just the work regardless of the agencies size. But that’s only gonna happen if people like you stand up an make a fuss. BTW, you missed an awesome party man.

    • I know. i really wanted to go to your party too. cub scouts intervened alas. you have an awesome space for a party.

      yeah, what pissed me off is I (along with many national clients) have been reading this same fucking article for ten years now. And it’s basically “Chicago ad agencies struggle in ass/elbow differentiation”.

      The real and of course unspoken problem that we all know is that they are dried up holding company husks with no energy or vision.

      And no amount of transplanted hipsters is going to change that.

      • In a coincidence, that reporter is coming to our shop Tuesday. Lets try to get a beer or six before the holidays are over.

    • that’s great david. tell him i said hi! ;-) and yes, let’s hook up for a beer or five.

  2. A mainstream reporter not knowing where to look or how to interpret what they do see…
    Good thing we have our own industry sites to read and write.

    • agreed david. but as you know there are increasingly fewer mainstream outlets that give our biz ANY coverage. and when they do, it always seems to paint chicago advertising as some kind of intractable problem like Detroit Auto. At what point does it become the management’s problem?

  3. Pingback: Reporters Write What They Know, But Sometimes They Do Not Know Enough | AdPulp

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  6. You have to reach out. Either cultivate your local reporters (general business and advertising) or hire a connected PR person or firm to do the initial contact. It might seem obvious, but what the heck,
    When the agency I founded was three months old, we hired a “press agent.” (An old term that reminds one of Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster hanging out in “21.”) But the press agent got Fortune to come over and the next month we were in the magazine as a “Company to Watch.”
    If you view publicity as useful and valuable to your company, you can’t wait for reporters to discover you.
    This blog is always a good read and that in itself is valuable. But the local agency succeeding in Cannes is a good story. But the competitive angle might not be as welcome.
    Might start with a press kit or something that a reporter might find worth a story.

  7. good idea Tom. and we have been active on the PR front locally, and nationally. but believe it or not, being in Chicago is still a bit of a handicap even in 2011. A lot of the publications that get read by clients are based in NYC. It’s them east coast media elites i blame, i tell ya!

    • Get the harvard business review to do a piece on you or better still do a piece for the Harvard Business Review based on blogging and agencying
      and seek to re-run it on Paddy’s Day or June 16th

      • HBR would be primo! My father in law went to Harvard. and my wife turned Harvard down. that always impressed me.

      • well harvard (with its network of grads)seems to deliver a quid pro quo for its expensive diploma….but if she went to MIT or West Point or Cal Tech or The Naval Academy or Carnegie Mellon, she probably got a better education……

  8. I have a hard time believing in the old model where we lean on the press to reach our public. We reach out public directly today.

    Which is not to say I don’t want the Times to write about me, AdPulp, Bonehook, etc. I do want them to feature my work. I just think the likelihood of them doing so is greatly increased when I routinely make media that the media can make note of and in select cases repurpose.

    • well, mr. burn makes a point BUT mr. escapology specifically lamented the depth of the chicago business reporter….so my serious and serio-comic comments were directed at that…..rare is it that a reporter seeks you out….
      i found that publicity was valuable both to attract business and give the internal staff the feeling that something was going on (often when nothing was happening)
      we did a miniature golf tournament in the bronx that actually got picked up by the financial times of london (we were satirizing golfing with clients)….when we billed diddily squat and hadn’t even entered award shows yet….
      BUT what is the purpose of mr. warren getting awards and publicizing the winning of them:
      a) attracting new clients
      b) attracting good employees
      c) attracting potential buyers of his business, buyers who place a value on award-winning and international publicity
      d) pleasure in having your work attributed to you in public
      for that you need general publicity–print, tv, radio are important

  9. Pingback: End The Negligence – Send MBAs Into Action With Proper PR Training | AdPulp

  10. I agree with Tom. You still have to cultivate the press relationships, because business reporters will go with what they know–and sometimes that isn’t much. The last agency I worked at, which is headquartered in upstate New York, made a deliberate effort in the last few years to increase its stature, including cultivating press contacts in New York City, and it worked.

    It might seem counterintuitive to think advertising agencies need PR help, but it can be quite effective even in 2011, if you’re looking for coverage in the “traditional” press. You just gotta work all the angles.

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