Is There a Bear Sterns of the Advertising Industry?

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by: Scott Goodson

First there was Bear Stearns. Now, James West suggests that Lehman Brothers – that venerable institution, that’s been in business since 1850, may fall in a Bear Stearns-like meltdown.

Diane Hinton, an analyst at Standard & Poor’s, said: `We’re in a market environment where sometimes perception becomes reality.’


I mean who in the right mind would have thought that the stability of Bear Stearns would ever be questioned. Still to this day I think many people still scratch their heads.

Now, let’s take a step back for a moment and look at an altogether different industry, with different market forces, different challenges and different opportunities.

The Advertising and Communications industry.

Much like the financial industry there are the venerable brands, some of which are doing very well indeed. The gold standard remains Omnicom. But for the others, I’m not so sure the future is as bright.

Of course you would expect the founder of StrawberryFrog, the independent global pirate ship to say something like that. But think about it yourself. If brands like B.S. were held together with scotch tape and band aids, what about the establishment brands of the advertising industry.

One of the classic criticisms of the rising challenger agencies such as Anomaly, Barbarien Group, Deep Focus, Persuasion Arts and Sciences, Venebles Bell, and StrawberryFrog…etc is that we are not as solid or as credible as the huge agency networks. I suppose the recent experience on Wall Street suggests that, perhaps, the safest choice a major client can make is giving their business to the challenger agencies.

And I suppose only time will tell if the facades of the adworld will endure in a fast-forward and fragmenting media world.

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