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In today’s Wall St. Journal, Suzanne Vranica, notes that Weiden + Kennedy’s recent dismissal by Nike is “a digital wake-up call for Madison Avenue, which has been slow to embrace digital media.”
“Gone are the days of one shoe, one advertising campaign. Now you’ve got to engage consumers on every level,” Trevor Edwards, Nike’s vice president of global brand and category management, told The Wall Street Journal last summer. Nike’s made some valiant efforts in new media, and Weiden’s been the agency for a lot of it. Just a hunch, but I’m sure there are two sides to the story.
It’s not just the agency’s fault. Madison Avenue’s failure in digital media has several causes:
Companies and agencies move way too slowly. Online, you don’t have months to create a campaign. You need to be ready to plug and play. That requires a willingness to take chances, to be transparent, and to let consumers respond.
By the time an ad or PR campaign makes its way through corporate, legal and PR, the online opportunity is over. Attention is short online. Agencies and their big, over-staffed clients don’t move fast enough. The race is to the swift, not to the lumbering dinosaur.
The agency business model is broken. Companies are still asking agencies (and agencies are still agreeing) to make creative pitches without being hired first, or paid.
You want to know how an agency thinks, look at their current and previous work. You like their approach, hire them and pay them to come up with something equally creative for you.

Online success is all about hyper-focus on niche audiences.
Ad agencies are still taking a buckshot approach that is supposed to try to appeal to the masses. But the Internet is about niche marketing.
You want to reach bloggers? Start hiring real bloggers who know the terrain. Don’t put up some lameass fake blog.
The fact is, you can’t create effective advertising for blogs or other social media sites unless you know them as a participant rather than an observer.
Agencies are paranoid. They’re hesitant to look beyond their walls for creative consultants who have a successful track record in new media. A lot of us don’t want to work for big agencies, or work in cubicles.
Agencies seem to be quite sure that they already have digital talent and corporations seem to believe them. But where’s the great work? Subservient Chicken was ground breaking. Have you seen another great campaign from Crispin + Porter? Please, show me a big agency that does consistently great work online.
Ad executives say more mainstream ad firms could lose business unless they figure out how to better integrate digital media, Vranica wrote. In fact, Madison Avenue ain’t seen nothing yet. There’s a tsunami of change coming at you.