In times of economic crisis shouldn’t ad agencies lead?

Given the current economic crisis and the communications revolution, on Monday, February 23rd, media baron Rupert Murdoch issued an urgent internal communication, warning his staff:

“We are in the midst of a phase of history in which nations will be redefined and their futures fundamentally altered. Many people will be under extreme pressure and many companies mortally wounded. Our competitors will be sorely tempted to take the easy beat, to reduce quality in the search for immediate dividends. 

Let me be very clear about our company: where others might step back from their commitment to their viewers, their users, readers and customers – we will renew ours.”

He declared, “The direction of the business now and over the next few years will define the character of our company for decades.”

Hopefully the advertising industry, with all of its resilient creative and intelligent minds, is as committed to finding solutions for its clients during the current economic crisis and global communications revolution.




What are your thoughts? Do you think ad agencies are already leading or are they behind? 




About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. Just shot you a twitter also from @MediaTwo. Although I don’t disagree with your rallying cry – I do fundamentally believe that agencies should execute better as well as guide their clients in best practices – but not actually lead. A well run company with a great marketing and business plan should be the leader and relay that to the agency for the agencies creative to execute (and by “creative” – I mean media as well as visual). We can help determine your 4P’s and how to reach your audience – but I sure hope the client knows their business better than the agency.

  2. Michael,

    I received your Twitter response. Thanks! I’m thankful we can create beneficial discussions like this through the use of social media.

    I would totally be in agreement with you IF I believed that a diverse portfolio of clients was a sign of strength for small-to midsize ad agencies. With a diverse portfolio it is impossible for an agency to know more about marketing their clients business than the client.

    But I’m going to humbly disagree …

    I believe a diverse portfolio is actually a sign of weakness for the small-to midsize ad agencies.

    I believe agencies should lead, they should be ahead of their clients. Agencies should know how to market a clients business better than the client.

    The reason many agencies don’t is that their client base is so diverse because they are relying on local business, personal networks and referrals for new business. They haven’t narrowed their clients to their core competencies. They will go after any prospective client that has a budget.

    To give an example for what happens when an agency is focused, develops and declares an expertise:

    A midsize regional ad agency (staff of 80) has a primary focus marketing academic medical centers. The last I heard they have eight academic medical center clients across the country. This has been the core work of the agency for some 15 years. They know how to market academic medical centers and I believe they know how to do it better than any of their healthcare clients and most other agencies. They are in a position of leadership and have a marketing knowledge that is far better than their clients.

    The agency has a swagger when it comes to marketing academic medical centers. They even are willing to put their profit at risk with a performance based compensation agreement.

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