Why is some advertising better than others?
Why are some agencies better than others?
The answer is the same in both cases.
Clarity + focus + consistency = powerful.
What happens at a lot of agencies is the energy gets dissipated.
The power evaporates.
Because too many people are making the decisions.
The creative director makes a decision, the planner changes it.
The planner makes a decision, the account man changes it.
The account man makes a decision, the client changes it.
The client makes a decision, a different client changes it.
Nothing is ever added by this process.
Something is always lost.
What do the great agencies have in common.
They’re all run by one powerful person with a vision.
One person, one vision, one agenda.
One guy tells you what to do.
One guy judges what you’ve done.
If he likes it, it gets sold.
Everyone knows what the job is.
There’s power, energy and clarity in that.
Not seven people arguing what’s right and wrong and eventually agreeing on a compromise that results in something everyone can just about live with, but nobody really loves.
For energy and excitement you need one man (or woman) with a clear sense of where they’re going.
They’re not going to argue the toss.
They’re going to take the decision, and take the responsibility.
It’s like the referee on a football pitch.
Or the sergeant in a platoon of soldiers.
Or the captain on a ship.
They are the authority.
When Frank Lowe was running Collett Dickinson Pearce it was the best agency in the UK.
Arguably in the world.
Ron Collins told me Frank came up to him one day and said, “Ron, I want you to write the best possible campaign for Cinzano Bianco.”
Ron said, “Okay, but I’ll need a brief first.”
Frank said, “I’ve just given it to you.”
In that sentence he’s told you everything you need to know about the type of work that’s wanted, who’ll be judging it, and how.
And the fact that no one, and nothing, is going to get in the way.
That’s what made CDP great.
Another time Ron had just written a commercial he was really proud of.
He was so thrilled with it, he wanted to show it to someone.
But it was lunchtime and no one was around.
Then he bumped into Frank Lowe in the corridor.
Franks said, “You seem very pleased with that piece of paper, let me see it.”
Ron gave it to him, and stood there and waited.
Frank read it and said, “This is a terrific script. Who shall we get to shoot it, Alan or Ridley?”
Ron said, “Hang on Frank, we’ve got to research it first.”
Frank said, “I’ve just done that. Who shall we get to shoot it, Alan or Ridley?”
At CDP, you didn’t waste a lot of time and energy wondering what you were supposed to be doing.

Clarity + focus + consistency = powerful.