Ad Agencies: Join the Conversation or Limit Your Options Later

Adage is running a nice round up article on the bru-ha-ha regarding the Maine Web Report and a lawsuit filed against them by an ad agency. The lawsuit was filed by a 40m advertising agency named
Warren Kremer Paino Advertising in New York. Everyone has already pilloried the ad agency for filing the lawsuit but in the name of context here is a recap:

Published: May 02, 2006

NEW YORK ( — An ad agency that specialized in travel
advertising is suing a Maine-based blogger for defamation after he
began to post regularly about the work the agency was doing for its
client, the state of Maine.

If you are in an agency, what can you DO about this? Note at the end of the adage article Steve Rubel, the de facto PR spokesperson for the planet, offers four pieces of advice. Note number 4! Rubel’s plan for a response to negative comments in a blog is:

  • The first step is to contact the blogger and discuss the issue in a nonthreatening way. See if an agreement can be reached.
  • Second,
    you might have to accept what you cannot change. It’s the bloggers’
    rights to communicate their opinions as long as the information was
    obtained through legal channels.
  • Try to find a third party to broker a discussion between you and the blogger.
  • Blog back, but only if you already have a blog.

Emphasis added. What this means if you are an ad agency is that you really can’t respond if you don’t already have bloggers on your team.

Yes you can try to find that "third party to broker a discussion" but
you are on your heels at the start of a fight. And that third party can
NOT be a lawyer even more clueless than the agency itself.


Which leads to the ironic text on the Warren Kremer Paino Advertising  site. No really, it says:

It’s time for a fresh perspective.
Let’s face it – the world has changed.
Consumers are jaded cynics.
Traditional marketing formulas are just plain tired.

Net affects on the agency? They are not even on the first page of google
for their own name. Big agencies get a lot of business through
consultants selecting the agency on behalf of a client. Those
consultants do not want to look foolish and they WILL search google.
Would you refer someone who proclaims they are a "fresh perspective"
while they get dragged through the dirt?

Accountability. I have said before that I think it is the middle
management level of the agencies that are the problem
. The president
will take the fall, but someone at the middle level is going "oh man,
look at that shit!" while they work on their resume. And they are the ones costing people their jobs. Which
is sad.

Thanks for the link Aaron!