We can all agree that technology is a wonderful thing. From the first stone tools to the iPhone 5, technological innovation has without a doubt helped mankind push the boundaries of what’s possible. However, when it comes to ad agency clients, technology has become our worst enemy.
It is because of technology that clients now expect us to do more with less, and faster. Why? Because they know its possible.
I’m gonna get all Andy Rooney and bring up the “good old days,” when clients actually respected our work because they knew it was just that, work. Back then, they knew that changing a logo from left to right, or changing a font size, or airbrushing out a birthmark, or getting an ad to the newspaper, was a big deal. They knew these things took time and money and expertise, and because of this, they were much more considerate and respectful of the advertising process.
Nowadays? Oh man, have we been duped. While technology has helped us give life to bigger and better ideas, it has also turned us into our clients’ slaves. They are well aware of the magic of Photoshop, the virtues of copy/paste, the power of “command” something. They know that asinine changes at the 11th hour can be requested because, well, it’s just a matter of right-click this and left-click that. They’ve lost respect for the process, both creative and technical. They now tend to see their account executives as order-takers and their creative team as doers. I know I’m using a broad stroke here, but this is the new reality.
Whereas coming up with great ideas was once a daily thing at an ad agency, today many talented creative professionals are relegated to coming up with their best stuff exclusively for new business pitches and/or annual reviews. The rest of the year our days are nothing but doing revisions and changing this and rewriting that.
The other fallacy of technology? Saving time. Technology came with the promise that we would do things quicker, that productivity would be high and we would have more free time. Well, never before in the history of advertising have we left the office so late so often, and taken so long to get shit done. I’ve seen projects where, for example, a simple 3-fold brochure has taken a team six weeks and multiple 15-hour days and weekends to complete. Why? Because the client kept dicking around with revisions and overall indecision.
If anyone in the ad biz has benefited from the leaps achieved in technology, it’s the client. They can now approve ads late at night when they’re at the gym, at home feeding their baby, or sipping cocktails with glamorous friends at a glamorous lounge, all the while the agency hacks are digging on old Chinese food and stale Coke.
Where did we go wrong?