The Conversation

Give a little respect

The Coinbase debacle shows that if we don't respect the work how can we expect others to

By jeremy lee

Irrespective of the creative merits of Coinbase's Super Bowl ad, which features a QR code drifting across a black screen for nearly a whole minute set to some annoying music, it provoked an interesting debate in the US about the way that some clients treat agencies. It's also something that resonates here.

For those not familiar with the tale, and to cut a long story short, the Coinbase CEO boasted on Twitter that the spot was an in-house effort. "No agency would have done this ad," he exclaimed proudly. Except that wasn't quite true. It turned out that The Martin Agency had pitched this very idea to Coinbase, and that the company had subsequently engaged Accenture Interactive to make it for them. The CEO swiftly performed a partial reverse ferret, although The Martin Agency received no credit.

While this US squabble provided an entertaining distraction to advertising's chatterati on the other side of the Atlantic, it does raise questions here also. While spats over ownership of IP flare up in the UK from time to time, advertising's value is increasingly called into question in some quarters, particularly as cuts in marketing costs are being considered as inflation soars.

It starts with agency fees being squeezed, as the first two words of the "faster, cheaper, better" mantra take precedence. And it ends up with agencies' creativity sidelined - as the Coinbase example, in which it has been disposed off completely, shows in extremis. 

It's heartening then to hear from some marketers, such as Premier Foods' Yilmaz Erceyes who recognises and publicly acknowledges the importance of advertising, and the agencies that create it, in driving sales growth.

The truth is agencies are sometimes guilty of talking down their own product, and senior people have been known to lament that the industry and its work is not what it was. It's time to rediscover our creative confidence and acknowledge that there's always been a mix of brilliant and average work. But we seem to have got out of the habit of collectively taking pride in the amount of excellent, effective work the industry does across an increasingly complex array of channels.

After all, if we don't stand up and champion the excellence this industry still delivers, we can't complain when others - including marketers - don't respect what agencies produce either.


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