Attendees at Advertising Week this year could be excused for feeling a sense of deja vu. As the industry moves deeper into a digital revolution, it remains in a state of flux, facing what seem like constant threats on all sides.
Yet the topics were oddly familiar. Famously crusty “ad contrarian” Bob Hoffman described the calendar in a tweet as “five days of horseshit about every imaginable cliche.”
Most agency vets were less dismissive, but all remained painfully aware of their existential crisis.
What is an ad agency, and should I start my own?
Advertising Week opened with a classic refrain: Advertising is dead; long live advertising! In a debate at least as old as the hills, multiple panels pondered what it means to work in the industry today and how one should define the word “agency,” exactly. All parties did at least agree that agencies must adapt or die—and soon.
Despite all this hemming and hawing over sustainability, many executives remained defiantly positive. Johannes Leonardo offered attendees a how-to panel on launching one’s own indie operation, and 72andSunny made the case for optimism while leaders from Wieden + Kennedy, Joan and Mekanism argued that you, the reader, should chase your dreams of agency ownership with an ominous “… but.”