16 of the Top Quotes from Fast Company’s The Future of Advertising


Highlighting an article that helps you gain a better perspective to the changes and challenges impacting the advertising industry as well as your agency’s ability to attract future new business.

As author Clay Shirky has said, “It is the people who figure out how to work simply in the present, rather than the people who mastered the complexities of the past, who get to say what happens in the future.

One of the richest and most important articles on advertising I’ve read this year was Fast Company’s,“The Future of Advertising.” I highly recommend it. I must have re-read it at least 5 times already and I glean something new from it each time.

Knowing the tendency of the majority of online readers to scan, I want to provide an incentive for you to read word-for-word, this excellent, but lengthy, 5,700+ word article. As I was trying to put together a “Readers Digest” version I was impressed by the insights just from the quotes within the article.

Here’s my list of the top 16 quotes from The Future of Advertising:

  1. “Digital will fuck you up and the way your agencies are built to make money, staff things, price things. You guys have to change your DNA, and you’re going to have tough decisions.” Instructor form Hyper Island, a school based in Sweden that has gained recognition for producing some of the greatest digital talent in the ad industry
  2. “Here we go again, first the news business, then the music business, then advertising. Is there any industry I get involved in that doesn’t get destroyed by digital technology?” Andy Nibley, former CEO of: ad agency Marsteller  and the digital arms of both Reuters and Universal Music
  3. “Creating more work for less money is the big paradox,” says Matt Howell, president of the Boston agency Modernista
  4. “Our power has been matched and, in some categories, rivaled by user influence,” Nick Brien, CEO of Interpublic Group’s McCann
  5. “The irony is that while there have never been more ways to reach consumers, it’s never been harder to connect with consumers,” explains Jakeman, now chief creative officer at Activision, the gaming company
  6. “Marketing in the future is like sex. Only the losers will have to pay for it.” Jon Bond, cofounder of Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners
  7. “With infinite ad inventory on the Internet, you just can’t have people do [media planning] anymore, it’s now being done by a piece of software.” Dan Salmon, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets
  8. “Many agencies are hanging on to this idea that creativity is theirs to own and sell.” Harley CMO Mark-Hans Richer
  9. “[Victors & Spoils] offered a great place to start versus sitting across from a creative who spent weeks crafting the perfect idea and gets upset if you want to change a word. I think the new model is scary because all of us in the ad industry want to feel, at least from a creative point of view, that we have something no one else has. So if you’re really good at it, you had to go to Creative Circus or Portfolio Center; you had to pay for it. Then you had to toil to get into a good shop. Then you had to get lucky to get on the good briefs. For someone to come out and say, ‘We think a lot of people can offer great ideas’ means, ‘What, I’m not special?’ ” Victors & Spoils chief creative officer Evan Fry
  10. Referring to the possibilities of digital, “There’s never been a better time to be in advertising, and there’s never been a worse time.” Aaron Reitkopf, North American CEO of digital agency Profero
  11. ” There’s only one thing everyone agrees on, and that’s that there is too much excess: too many people, too many of the wrong kinds of people, too much bloat, too much inefficiency. And this in an industry that has laid off more than 160,000 people in the past two years. Ohhhh,the carnage is going to be awesome.” Aaron Reitkopf, North American CEO of digital agency Profero
  12. “In our business, whenever there’s a disruption, our clients need guidance.” CEO Michael Roth, Interpublic Group
  13. “In the early days, digital was always an afterthought, so we didn’t acknowledge the true cost. We sold wrong, we neglected to put digital-savvy people in our new business roles. Instead of building digital things that had utility, we approached it from a messaging mind-set and put messaging into the space. It took us a while to realize that project management in the digital space is completely different.”Edward Boches, Mullen’s chief innovative officer
  14. “We still don’t know how to monetize what we do. We don’t monetize ourselves properly, so we don’t hit our margins.” Peter McGuinness, CEO of Gotham
  15. “In a world where media spend is in inexorable decline, and where advertising per se is an endangered species, [agencies] don’t know where to turn,” he says. “The realization of the nightmare is under way. And that nightmare is the utter collapse of the business model.” Bob Garfield, advertising-industry pundit and author of The Chaos Scenario
  16. “When media and communications planning have become more important than ever, why are our media agencies further (physically and philosophically) from the people who create advertising?” Brian Perkins, Vice President of Corporate Affairs of Johnson & Johnson

I would encourage you to take the time to read Danielle Sack’s article in its entirety, “The Future of Advertising,” to learn how Mullen, which laid off 100 workers during the recession has hired twice that number and landed such progressive brand accounts as Zappos and JetBlue.

Danielle invites you to Tweet your answer to the question, “What is the Future of Advertising?” by using the hashtag #adfuture.

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. Eric Miltsch says:

    Awesome quote collection from the best article of the year!

    I’ve read this article over and over…everyone should.

  2. Michael, great post – I too, found the article to be an eye-opener. One of my favorite quotes was “The death of mass marketing means the end of lazy marketing.”

  3. I LOVED the Fast Co. article. Very bold yet grounded in real examples. Thanks for the roundup!

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