Marketing Decisions

The blog of LHL Partners, LLC. The blogger is (often) Rick Lightburn, Chief Knowledge Officer of LHL Partners, with his observations about marketing. Our main page is at

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Communications and Product Development

An interesting item was published in the Small Agency Diary on that argues that "creative development" (i.e., communications development) isn't the same as "product development."
Why Your Agency Shouldn't Do Product Development - Advertising Age - Small Agency Diary
The author (Marc Brownstein) argues quite sensibly that advertising agencies are in a very different business than new product development. Ad agencies should focus on what their core competency is, and that is working with the intangible. Yes, product development shouldn't be left to the engineers, and should have a customer focus, and should have full participation from the marketing discipline. So there's a temptation for ad agencies, who like to be partners to their marketing clients, to get into that business.
But there's a further reason for agencies not getting into the product development business. Advertising agencies are unreceptive, if not downright hostile, to the idea of process. Many agencies approach creative development as a series of "one-offs," and don't try to improve, much less regularize, the way that they develop creative. Accordingly, they just don't process, and they can't get process and just don't do process.
While this hostility may be justifiable with regard to creative development (and I don't think it is,) it almost certainly is NOT justifiable with regard to new product development: the importance of having a new product process has been shown time and again (although no one process has emerged as dominant.)
So it would be an exceptional advertising agency that had any competence at new product development.

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