The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Do As I Say, Not As I Do …
July 24, 2012, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Adland is notorious for not practicing what they preach.

They talk about the importance of communication but rarely communicate themselves.

They talk about their focus on solving business problems but tend to only deal in ads.

They say their staff are their greatest asset, then work them to within an inch of their life.

But there’s another thing that I find particularly interesting and that is their approach to positioning.

They say – as they should – that every brand should have a clear and concise positioning in the mind of the audience.

Something that differentiates them from the competition and clearly defines their role or benefit or belief to the wider audience.

With every category being more and more cluttered, this is becoming an increasingly hard thing to do – especially as on many occasions, your positioning gets influenced more by what your competitors say than what you want to express – however that still doesn’t excuse the fact that Starcom have summed up their point of view with this:

What the fuck were they thinking?

OK … OK … to be fair, the actual meaning behind this is far more meaningful, purposeful and relevant, but the question is, will anyone ever find that out when they have used a phrase that implies they are a company full of people with no thoughts of their own?

“Hello, is that Starcom?”

“Yes, can I help you?”

“Yes, I’d like some ideas how to communicate my company to the World please.”

“I’m terribly sorry sir, we don’t have ideas, we’re the goldfish of media – but if you have some you’d like to give us, that would be super … we have lots of employee brain space that is available to be filled at very reasonable prices.”

I know I’m being a petty fuck … I know I am … but if a company in the communication industry can’t understand the importance of message clarity, why the hell should any company trust us to do the right thing for them?

But don’t worry Starcom, as I said – at least the meaning behind what you’re [badly] saying has some [potentially generic] value, but at least it’s not as bad as this or this.

34 Comments so far
Leave a comment

They’re a media company, what do you expect.

Comment by DH

Space for ideas? Their asses capacity to store shit is impressive.

Comment by DH

That was funnier in my head than on this blog.

Comment by DH

Welcome to our world.

Comment by John

And Dave’s world.

Comment by Billy Whizz

on the bright side dave, your job application for a writing gig on whatever bullshit show matthew perry is now “starring” in has been accepted.

Comment by andy@cynic

Always a silver lining.

Comment by DH

I hate media agencies. Just saying.

Comment by Billy Whizz

the way women hate you? fuck me, thats some fucking hate you have there then.

Comment by andy@cynic

There are some great media people, but not media agencies. In their defence, their business model is based on supplying clients with standardised quantifiable data so their media options are automatically limited, but that also highlights how ridiculous Starcoms positioning is, because there’s only really space for recognised quantifiable media channel ideas.

Comment by Pete

how many times have we told you to keep your planning bollocks to yourself. its for your own good. it stops you looking a twat and it doesnt make people want to hit you.

Comment by andy@cynic

hang on, youre bitching starcom out. in that case its a great fucking point. keep it up.

Comment by andy@cynic


talk about giving yourself names that big youfuckingself up. all they fucking do is click a fucking mouse to buy some shit using the same fucking media plan they ce up with 40 fucking years ago.

maybe if the bastards called themselves something like community care id believe what they say.

Comment by andy@cynic

maybe they could give the job to prisoners to do instead of those wooden fucking furniture bollocks they have to churn out. it would be easier for them and the boredom would subdue their violent tendencies.

im a fucking genius.

Comment by andy@cynic

Will the next wave of media agency names be something like:


They all claim to be unique with their special tools but they all be up sounding and doing the same. Like creative agencies, just with better profit margins.

Comment by DH

who the fuck cares.

Comment by andy@cynic

Love this Dave:

“They all claim to be unique with their special tools but they all be up sounding and doing the same. Like creative agencies, just with better profit margins.”

Love it in a ‘sad it’s true’ kind of way.

That comment just about redeems you for the awful attempt of a joke you make earlier in the comments.

Comment by Rob

They don’t even say great or original ideas.

Comment by John

And, of course, the moral of the story is that positioning is derived from what you do rather than what you say you’re going to do.

Comment by John

Starcom seem to have confused positioning with dreaming.

Comment by Pete

Good, if sarcastic post Robert. Pete’s (first) comment is a very good one because it highlights one of the fundamental issues facing media agencies in respect to their development. One other being their inability to understand the difference between positioning and vision. If an agency did take this on, it would revolutionise the industry but with clients being relatively unimaginative in their communication strategy, I can see why anyone would be reluctant to take that on.

Comment by George

It’s funny how the evaluation criteria between creative and media is so different. Of course, that is because ultimately media have a pseudo quantifiable metrics to be judged by whereas creative agencies – in their desire for more ‘freedom’ – have created an atmosphere of ‘personal judgement’.

The irony being that by walking away from this [which, to be fair, is exactly what we should do] we’ve opened the door for research companies to create their self-defined ‘creative execution model’ which – it can be argued – has put us in an even worse position.

Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.

Comment by Rob

It’s interesting how many comemnters have focussed on this being about media agencies (whatever they are when it seems to me that the failure to differentiate applies to the vast majority of specialist agencies across all sorts of industries (not just advertising). Positioning yourselves as experts isn’t enough and it’s certainly not differentiation. You need to get out of your ivory tower, away from the self-deluding crutch of proprietary processes and become commercially relevant too.

George is right, but then uncharacteristically throws in the “unimaginative clients” cop-out. Don’t you get the clients you deserve? Are all (as opposed to most) marketing directors drones? Implicit differentiation courtesy of recent work seems to me to play a significant role in short-list creation, think what actual and client-challenging differentiation might achieve.

Comment by John

When all media companies essentially do the same thing, you get an endless stream of these fluffy statements that are supposed to inspire internal staff as much as they are to ‘impress’ potential clients. Working at the guilty party mentioned, I can’t apologise for it, but at the same time I know it’s not the worst out there…

Comment by James D

Oh it’s definitely not the worst out there – and without doubt, many creative agencies act in the same way … but it’s more the expression of their positioning that blows me away because regardless of the valid background behind it, the reality is most people will only find that out if you work with them and the way they currently express it acts more as a deterrent than a magnet.

Comment by Rob

Given I used to work largely with three media agencies:


The big-up names at least make it easier to tell them apart!

Comment by Rob Mortimer (Not a fake Andy)

mediavest? what the fuck is mediavest? is there a mediacardigan out there. what about mediafrankbough?

what a bunch of twats.

Comment by andy@cynic

the problem with most media agencies is, that they come up with “media possibilities” and then tell the “creative agencies” to fill them with ideas. when it should be the other way round.

last time our media agency, after we presented them the idea behind the campaign, simply stated: “okay we get it. but can’t we just say that cars are awesome?” – great. imagine how easy our job would be:

mercedes benz – our cars our awesome.
volkswagen – our cars are awesome, too.
bmw – have we mentioned our cars are awesome?

oh, I just had to throw up into my mouth a little…

Comment by seb

its good having you back. wheres that brown fucker? marcus, not lauren. sadly.

Comment by andy@cynic

it is disturbing reading you write that.
not the brown thing. the other.

Comment by seb

tiredness makes you do fucking strange and stupid things. and stop being so fucking ungrateful. people have been known to offer sacrifices to get me to give them a fucking compliment.

Comment by andy@cynic

Exactly. How can the media brief come before the creative brief? The whole nature of what you are doing could change based on the creative and strategy…

Even worse was when a media agency presented their creative ideas without having discussed them with us, and we had to very constructively and politely (in front of the client) tell them that most of it was rubbish.

Comment by Rob Mortimer (Not a fake Andy)

hey starcom. ive got a space for your fucking ideas.

Comment by andy@cynic

Made for them.

Comment by DH

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