It's always the cobbler's son who has holes in his shoes. I'm probably paraphrasing, but the saying neatly conveys an interesting irony: We often overlook things that are closest to us.
This phrase comes to mind when I visit agency web sites. I don't think anyone would argue that traditional ad agencies, for the most part, are behind the Internet curve.
We've been watching as they gradually embraced the idea, start building new divisions, invest in new technologies and finally learn the basics.
Wouldn't you expect they'd have a decent Web site running by now?
Last week, I randomly selected a dozen agency sites to visit and was surprised at what I found, or more to the point, what I didn't. First: five of the 12 sites were still under construction: Arnold; Deutsch; Goodby, Silverstein & Partners; TBWA Worldwide; and Wieden & Kennedy.
Some shops provide amusing or informative placeholders while the site is under construction.
Arriving at TBWA's venue, for example, a phone rings and when answered, a voice explains that the site is preparing for its debut. If you fill out a form, you'll be notified when it goes live. Given its under-construction status, Deutsch's site is pretty comprehensive, including time line that cites the wins and other high points.
Goodby didn't bother doing anything with its placeholder, opting instead for a generic approach using the home page supplied by Network Solutions. "Generic is good because it maximizes the improvement when we actually come up with one," jokes Jeff Goodby. Another reason? "Generic is good because there's nothing for Adweek to make fun of."
At Arnold's unfortunately truncated Arn.com, we watch the "old" fall off the agency name to be replaced by .com.
Here are some basics about a few active sites:
TBWA/Chiat/Day: Tbwachiatday.com offers agency execs' pontifications on topics such as "The Internet and Greek Mythology." There's also a mission statement describing the shop's "brilliant originality."
GSD&M: Gsdm.com opens with a girl playing a guitar and the statement, "Imitation is the sincerest form of a lack of imagination," then welcomes you to "Idea City." The "Join us" page reads, "We only hire creatives. So. Are you a creative?" Click no and it sends you to www.irs.gov (which is, ironically, a hip and well-designed site) for tax forms.
Margeotes: Margeotes.com is a masterpiece of shock wave animation and groovy lounge music. It's stylish, but the bells and whistles make navigating the site slow going.
BBDO: bbdo.com is one of the few where TV work is password-protected, so the agency skirts the talent fee issue and can track inquiries. I found this convenient.
Fallon: Fallon.com's sepia-toned, clip arty design is elegant and easy to navigate. However, the text is dry and formal, and there's no portfolio.
Leo Burnett: Leoburnett.com has its trademark apples doubling as links to credentials, news, etc. The site is clean and easy to navigate.
Overall, some highs, some lows, but I still expected more.
Alison Fahey, ADWEEK. January 10, 2000.
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