Ken Convoy Rants Rich About Agency Arrogance


Ken Convoy's got a few agency-ready business models proven to save tons of money and make clients love you more. He can do it all at a fraction of the cost most agencies can, and with less than 10 people involved.

What are these big ideas?

We don't know.

Who is Ken Convoy?

Um ... a dude who runs a one-man agency in Santa Barbara, CA.

But hey, Ken is willing to convey his winning, proven models to any kingpin agency willing to talk to him. The problem is, nobody's passed him more than a few friendly emails, followed by the inevitable brush-off.

In this post right here, Ken (sometimes eloquently) details his attempts to penetrate the iron curtain of "agency arrogance" with zero luck.

His livid conclusion: "Clearly, if you're a client or agency stockholder, your agencies are developing creative for the 21st century using ineffective and outdated 1970s methods that suppress the return on your advertising investment and inhibit you from reaching your goals.

"They are creating the equivalent of typewriters in the computer age, eight-track tapes in the era of iPods, rotary phones at a time when cell phones are state-of-the-art. And they have no problem doing so."


Convoy makes a valid point: Like any established sector, old-school ad agencies are married to a number of time-honored business traditions, for better or worse.

The list of publicly-owned agencies Convoy contacted is embarrassing. It includes business bests like BBDO, DDB, Draft/FCB, JWT, Ogilvy, and Leo Burnett.

But Convoy overlooks the myriad new, exciting and forward-looking agencies that are springing up every day -- small agencies like his own, with excited execs willing to talk to him.

In the wake of three-step user publishing and online consumer backlash, the worst agencies are seeking footing where now there is little or none. There are a thousand reasons why they're slipping: the old models have stopped working, big business has trouble changing, there may be pride and politics involved, and sure as hell there's bureaucracy around every corner.

Like the fall of the South after the Civil War, only the best and toughest agency dinosaurs will survive this onslaught of CGM, product evangelism and new school creativity.

Adding to that, execs hear pitches like Ken's about 20 times a day. Each Ken prototype comes bright as a bulb, dripping personal accolades and convincing financial figures. To reach a decision-maker in any big firm, you yourself need to be willing to do more than pass along a few emails and try nailing them down to an appointment. You need to show them a little bit of creativity.

And even then -- even if they fucking love you -- consider all the people a bigwig's got to answer to. Nobody takes a bright young consultant on and lets him change the way things have been done for thirty years.

Let's be fair. Would you?

by Angela Natividad    Dec- 7-07   Click to Comment   
Topic: Agencies, Opinion   

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It was fascinating to read of Ken Convoy and his frustration in dealing with advertising agencies.

With the greatest of respect we feel that our experiences are even worse…why?

Well we have discovered that the problem is world-wide, we have presented to agencies in Japan, Australia, Singapore, the good old US of A and other countries and their responses were all similar!

Overtime we have made an investment of $10 million in independent research because our business charter was predicated in making advertising totally accountable. This research proved that just one exposure to our events was substantially more cost effective that regular advertising.

P & G asked Professor E.L. Roberto, PhD, Coca-Cola Foundation Professor of International Marketing reviewed the $10 million of independent research conducted on behalf of the technique and provided this summary as to the techniques cost efficiency:

“The participating advertisements generated recall scores that are more than 50% productive than normal advertising. The effect on purchase intention is just as impressive if not much more.

All these productivity increments are attainable at a reasonably inexpensive budget. One Client revealed that for its participating brand, its quarter television expenditure was $5.7 million as compared to its investment in the techniques' budget of $0.5 million. This 1:10 ratio has been obtained in other countries.”

We presented this research to a Senior Account Director O&M, at the end he drew himself up to his full height and pronounced "You may have invested $10 million in research but I have a feeling in my gut…"!

At Y&R their Account Director said "We quite agree with everything you have to say about the communication process however at Y&R our advertisements are so good as to overcome these problems, however we can see that other advertising agencies could make use of your technique"!

We are in the process of writing a book entitled "Television killed advertising" because it did, agencies made heaps of money churning out TV commercials irrespective of the Clients needs. And I thought that advertising was a service industry dedicated to providing the best of communication skills…absolute nonsense.

We would love to meet up with Ken…if only to commiserate!

Posted by: 01934-620047 on December 7, 2007 4:57 PM

Ummm, does Ken happen to know something that Google doesn't?

Posted by: Gunther Sonnenfeld on December 7, 2007 5:36 PM

The arrogance I sense is not from the agencies who receive as many of these kind of pitches as I receive e-mails from Nigeria asking me to send some money so as to receive the proceeds of a multi-million dollar savings account at the Union Bank of Switzerland which is there because they can't get themselves out of Nigeria.
The arrogance I feel is Ken's in almost every syllable of his pitch that isn't a whine.
One-man agencies with the Holy Grail don't need to seduce 500-man and woman agencies to buying his spiel; he needs to pitch advertisers. That's his market; that's fulfillment. The agencies are his competition. All he needs to do is realize that and he'll be on his way to not thinking of himself as an agency. Which will be the first step to his salvaton.

Posted by: Tom Messner on December 8, 2007 10:19 AM

I can't count how many "Kens" I've had to deal with as a freelance talent. Single-man operations that are convinced that they, alone, have the key to advertising or marketing nirvana. That all they have to do is spin their "system" into a client's needs and riches will fall from the heavens.

Oddly, their plan always seems to include trying to get the freelancer to work as a "partner in future profits", in lieu of actually paying for the work they asked for. That and screaming about how they can get a perfectly good logo online for $50, and they see no reason to pay what I'm asking for identity graphics.

Posted by: Jim C on December 8, 2007 12:10 PM

The sad part is that this guy (and the first commenter) should be surprised that the BDA's don't want to meet with him. Apart from the fact they get shit like this pitched every day... It's not in their interests to be held accountable. Jesus, that's like pulling the curtain and showing the client that "there's no there, there."

Posted by: george parker on December 8, 2007 8:30 PM

an NBC SVP-Development writes that our model will lead to programming as successful as "Desperate Housewives" and takes guessing out of buying decisions. Nine senior promotion executives at ABC, CBS and NBC agree that our unique promotional strategies will increase ratings by 50-to-100% or more. And we've been asked to speak to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the companies who fund TV, about its future and how our unique branded-content model raises the bar so high that advertisers will confidently invest in scripted series.

Recruitment Agency

Posted by: kelvin on May 18, 2009 11:53 PM