Bob Ragsdale of Bracco HPF just loves bad outdoor advertising. He explains how it reveals agencies with a limited strategic insight.
Don't you just love bad outdoor advertising? The more bad outdoor I see, the happier I get. An outdoor execution is one of the single most telling pieces of creative. The strategic insights you can derive from it are amazing. In a single glance you can immediately assess the strategic abilities of the agency that created it, their grasp of the consumer, their ability (or inability) to lead the client, their creative thinking, production skills and standards. It's all there, wall to wall and tree-top tall.
Outdoor is arguably one of the most difficult creative media to do well in. It has to be bold and concise, or in other words, brave and focused. Bravery and focus are built upon a solid platform of product, market and consumer understanding culminating in clear strategic objectives.
The ability to create clear strategies built on solid foundations is the hallmark of great communication companies. With so much talk about advertisements however, clients tend to loose sight of the myriad of skills that an agency can bring to the table. In a recent pitch, one of the clients stood up and said "What is this? Agencies do ads, not strategies." It's unique only because it's the first time that someone has actually stood up to say it. But we've heard it before. However, setting strategic objectives in concert with our clients is the core of what we do.
Having a strong strategic focus is a superb way to underline the added value that we as professionals lend to our clients. By understanding the clients' business as well as or better than they do, you become their advocate, partner and adviser. With this understanding you can question current practice, explore alternatives, reframe the landscape and lead clients to successful communication solutions. In short, you become part of their team and you cease to be a vendor. In the absence of such focus an agency becomes a production or media house whose only competitive edge is cost.