One of the more interesting things I heard about during advertising week was this Clickz article from Christoper Heine covering a panel called "Do Agencies Need to Think Like Tech Companies?" If you've been reading this blog, you know I'm a big advocate that both agencies and startups could learn something from one another.
I latched in particular one some of the remarks made by Paul Gunning, CEO of TribalDDB that articulated some of the resistance agencies have to adopting a more agile approach, but one quote in particular got me thinking...
According to Gunning, startups "are really smart people, but they also got lucky.... We mitigate. We don't want risk."
Financially, this doesn't make sense. Agencies risk hundreds of millions of dollars on campaigns that hang on single messages. Creative directors have been risking billions of advertising dollars on 30 seconds for years. By contrast, most startups in this "lean" era merely gamble the price of funding a small team.
The truth is that agencies take HUGE risks to affect small changes and startups take small risks for more disruptive changes. Would you rather spend $100 million to persuade people that you're more fun than they think you are, or spend $10 million to create something fun they can use for years?
Agencies mitigate risk primarily by sticking to what they believe still works. I think that's a risk in itself.