July 25, 2005

british advertising continues to die (hurrah)


Piers Fawkes, a Brit living in New York, is unimpressed with the London advertising scene:

There are a few folk in the UK who are very switched on, I grant you, but a lot of agency people I met in my short visit were rather bemused by PSFK and IF. Although blogs are championed by the Guardian newspaper - an important media read - the British marketing community seems to be dismissive of the new tools to develop dialog between brands and consumers.

The contrast with New York, where I am based, is vast. Agencies in New York get it - they may not be making the best attempts but they're trying hard. It's best to crash and burn than not not try at all, no? The buzz around new media tools is exemplified by the social networking going on here. Meanwhile in London, there seems to be an air of "well, we make the most creative advertising in the world, why should we listen to what's going on anywhere else." Everyone in Soho seems to be still in the pub talking about the next commercials director.

I know it's fun hanging out in Soho and shooting trendy commercials and whatnot, but in terms where business is evolving on a global level, the British advertising scene has evolved into a complete irrelevance.

How did this happen? Here's one idea: Soho is a trendy neighborhood in London (like the "SoHo" in New York). Now here's the thing- Soho is where the London ad community is traditionally based, fair enough.

Hey, guess what else is in Soho? That's right, Wardour Street. What's Wardour Street? That's right, the traditional center of the British Film industry.

The British advertising industry and the British film industry have always had a closer day-to-day relationship with each other than the American equivalents (Madison Avenue and Hollywood are thousands of miles apart, after all).

The British advertising scene sees itself more as an extension of the Film-TV-Entertainment industry, than they see themselves an extensions of their clients' business.

Big. Mistake.

Posted by hugh macleod at July 25, 2005 3:57 PM | TrackBack

I worked on Wardour Street in the late 70's / early 80's - I think you're spot on Hugh!

At that time what we were actually doing was making trailers for the director to get a Hollywood gig...

Posted by: davidcoe... at July 25, 2005 5:09 PM

Two small points.

(1) Centres of gravity shift - It maybe that New York is more creative than London at the moment in the ad scene. (Copenhagen has some groovy entrepreneurs though)

(2) Wardour Street is not only too close to the film industry. it's also too close to the porn industry. There's incredible symbiosis between the ad scene and the porn scene.

Posted by: Leonard Payne - The Priest at July 26, 2005 12:04 AM

Leonard, good points.

Of course, you could argue that the British TV/Film industry is getting more and more irrelevant, as well...

Posted by: hugh macleod at July 26, 2005 3:27 AM

Oh, lord, that is a fantastic cartoon. GREAT blog! :)

Posted by: AMG at July 26, 2005 3:41 AM

I venture to Wardour Street for a feed, but not much else. For good reason.

Posted by: Jack Yan at July 27, 2005 1:52 PM