When we came up with the term “The Anti-Agency®” I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it. I didn’t want it to sound like we were being derogatory towards other agencies. That was definitely not the intent. I also didn’t want anyone to think we’re anti-advertising, because that is definitely not the case. Nor did I want it to sound negative in any way by using the prefix “anti” which is defined as “against” or “opposite of”. But when I really thought about it “anti” can be used to make very positive statements too. Statements like, anti-poverty, anti-racism or anti-war.
So why “The Anti-Agency®“?
Well, primarily due to the number one rule of smart marketing: listen to what your customers say, but really listen to what your unhappy and ex-customers say. And what I was hearing from associates and business owners almost unanimously was two very disturbing things: most people were either unhappy or just satisfied with their agency or they wanted marketing help but absolutely did not want an agency. And when I asked why, their answers were even more disturbing.
They believe that agencies today over promise and under deliver. That agencies really don’t have a genuine interest in the success of their business. These business owners also feel that the people working in agencies today have migrated into the category by default from other positions and industries like media sales. That the methodology of what most agencies do and how they do it is antiquated and repetitive. And finally one of the most disturbing things I continue to hear is that most agency people lack passion.
So now knowing how they feel about agencies I understand their perception. And since I believe perception is reality, I am not interested in calling ourselves an agency. And I am 100% okay with saying we are the anti-agency® because I am opposed to over promising and under delivering. I am opposed to any notion or belief that we do not care about the results or our client’s business. I am opposed to people from other industries and positions waking up one day and declaring themselves an agency. We are the opposite of antiquated and repetitive. And finally, I am completely against anyone doing anything without having a passion for what they do!
So knowing all of this we struggled with calling ourselves an agency. We struggled even more trying to come up with a term to call ourselves. I can’t really remember who blurted out “well, if we’re the opposite of an agency we’re the anti-agency®“. Maybe it was to illicit a laugh, and when the room silenced from the laughter we all looked at each other and said “it’s true…we are The Anti-Agency®“.
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