My Intern is Smarter than Me!


There is no doubt about that. I have used paid interns since the time I started my own business in 2001. I had worked successfully in the corporate world and then I started Blank and Associates. I had business cards quickly but I didn’t know much beyond that on how to create a job every day for myself.

So I went back to where I started. My youth. I had nothing to lose then. And then I connected with youth to help me. I hired my first paid intern. He has been in the workforce for a decade now and I pitched him this week on a project.

I have continued to use paid interns since then. Continue reading


In the New Normal Agency Life is a Game of Jump Ball


I really don’t know much about Basketball having grown up in Canada. I do know quite a bit about Hockey though. I do know that Basketball was invented by a Canadian named James Naismith. Wikipedia said he was a Canadian American, although I don’t think you can get such a passport that would pass with TSA or INS.

I like talking to agency principals. I have written about that in the many times in the past.

I was having some wine with an agency principal from a global agency the other day. Part of a major agency holding company.  He makes more money in a year than I make in 3 years. He hadn’t had a raise in three years. It is all about the bonus baby, if you make the number. That number was created for NYSE but not for the New Normal.

They were lamenting how much the agency business has changed and that even the larger clients are dropping AOR relationships for project work. This reminded me of when I saw the CEO of Razorfish speaking at a New Business Conference a couple of years ago. He said that 50% of his agency’s work was project based.

I remember thinking, how do you manage that when you have to make payroll for 3,000 people? Continue reading

Corporate Theme Lines Often Don’t Align With Company Culture.


I love being involved with the development of agency corporate theme lines.

When we were pitching a new campaign or a piece of business, out would come one of the presentation boards that was placed on rails in the agency conference room. Then the reveal moment.

One of my favorites was when I worked on a Laxative called Nature’s Remedy. Out came the theme line reveal. When Nature Needs a Nudge. Brilliant, as the British say.

In the New Normal I have seen a lot of theme lines that are just Gold Smoke. Companies just talking to themselves. Continue reading

How Agencies Can Move Up the Food Chain?


Things have rapidly improved for most advertising agencies especially if they have a strong digital game or are a digital firm. You no longer have to chase every sniff of potential income.  Thank God.

With these improvements have come the discovery or confirmation of one of advertising’s greatest operating tenets. It costs almost as much to service a smaller account as a larger one. And since many clients with smaller budgets aren’t really the best marketers, you get other headaches.

They often don’t really understand all the pieces and stages of the digital process so there are too many revisions and changes etc. You get the drift. You have lived this before and remember the frustrations.

So how do you catch bigger fish? Well you have to go where they go to start and this is Conferences. Continue reading

How Can Agencies Attract the Best Talent?


I know all about talent. How to be surrounded by the best, the smartest. The ones that make you feel dumb and inspire you to strive to be better. You can fill in your rest.

I often sat in my new office chair at an agency looking out at the view from a skyscraper or office tower when I was hired at a great shop or transferred to another office within the network. I had a smile on my face just with the achievement of being hired.

Often the Principal of the firm would take the time and stop by unannounced in my office the first few days after I started.

They were polite and smiled and basically told me you are lucky to work here and implied through unsaid words that I should make sure I didn’t screw it up. I didn’t forget that lesson. Then the agency continued to train me. Continue reading

Agency New Business in the Digital World.


I was returning from a trip to my hometown Toronto the other day. I have always learned from Toronto that the more things change the more things stay the same.

The Toronto Film Festival was on so the town was abuzz.

I remember when Gravity premiered there.

Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield was on hand. He sang Space Oddity from above the world. It went Viral. He obviously wasn’t in the ad game but had the social media game down pat. David Bowie sent him a tweet. Continue reading