The Agency As The Octopus

Dew on a Spiderweb
I wrote this draft post back in January, but the AdAge article today on how marketing is becoming directed to other marketers targeting each other prompted me to post it now:

Now that we're all comfortable with 'social media,' I'd like to throw in a little of my darker, literary side.

In 1901, Frank Norris detailed the struggles of small farmers against the "public domain" encroachment of big railroad industry in "The Octopus."

In the end,
"Presley goes to San Francisco, where he meets the president of the railroad and finds that he is not an evil man. He meets Hooven's daughter Minna, whom poverty has driven to prostitution. Chapter seven alternates scenes of a splendid, opulent dinner in the home of a railroad vice president with scenes of Hooven's widow starving on the city street. In the end, Behrman, the cold-hearted railroad agent who destroyed so many wheat ranchers, is buried under tons of wheat being dropped into the hold of a ship on which Presley is sailing. The ship is one that the wealthy people of San Francisco have arranged, with charitable contributions, to take wheat to the starving people of India."

Traditionally, agencies expanded when valued employees moved to other cities with viable markets and wanted to become outposts, or when working with a client in another city, they forged relationships with smaller companies there to then merge.
Until now, only the largest and well-funded agencies were able to expand to multiple locations.

Will that model remain?

In Richmond, copeland casati media has clients we've never met in London, Washington, L.A., Toronto... We know everything about their business, even their grandchildren's names. Somehow far-flung clients find us, and relationships begin. It has been great seeing so many different businesses overcome the "must meet in person" mindset to leap into close, successful, longterm projects.

Now there's twitter, and other social media.
When I first joined, it was to listen to authorities on subjects that interested me.
Then I began to cut up- our job involves much research, so I use twitter often as a place to giggle, relax, and interact with my peers.

This brought about some unexpected gifts- new friends with whom I'm happy to see outside of work, and collaboration on ideas, conversations... and fun.

Lately I've been exploring several large agencies in Paris, London, New York, loving how each has their own voice, brand, culture... seeing ones that are totally different from our workplace, then discovering ones where I think, "Oh my gosh we could work there!"

And think...

Now, before you start spreading rumors that we're gonna merge...
We have neither plans nor desire to change our company or culture.
We are happy as we are.

BUT it makes us think:
I am certain 'Big Ad Industry' will be changing, thanks to the ease of interaction through new social networks, and thought professionally we should point it out.

Like the era of Big Railway taking away small fields of wheat, will there rise The Octopus of Large Advertising greedily extending their domain?

...Or will this foster opportunity for nimble collaboration and exchange of culture and collaboration?

As a web enthusiast... I'm certain it will be the latter.
The interaction on the web still remains individualistic- despite the brand umbrella under which your agency speaks.

I see instead The Octopus as people leaning towards and reaching to each other via different agencies, in outreach, not overtaking but benefiting in positive partnerships to better serve their clients.

Let culture, and freedom of collaboration, ring.

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