Geniuses, Editors, and a Dentsu Aegis Clarification

Anyone who ever glances at Linkedin will know that in amongst the recruitment requests, the company updates, the PR boasts and the occasional useful link are numerous thought pieces telling us all how to do our jobs better.

If there’s one thing the online world has given us it’s the wherewithal to share our photos, our thoughts and our opinions with those choosing to follow us. Sadly, at the same time this privilege has it seems also robbed us of any sense of self-awareness, common-sense and humility.

Everything we think, can be shared. If it can be shared, it must be shared.

The problem is that quite often what we think is rubbish. Sometimes it’s ill-informed. Sometimes it’s self-justification. Sometimes it’s best kept to ourselves. And yet we go ahead and put it up there anyway.

It seems that seeing a thought in print imbues that thought with some gravitas, some respectability.

Indeed you could be said to be reading a prime example of this phenomenon.

Here are some wonderful examples from some of those I follow with my off-the-cuff, un-researched comments. I’ve anonymised them.

  • ‘It’s not the big fish that eats the little fish; it’s the fast fish that eats the slow fish.’ No it isn’t. Some fast fish are very fast, and very small. Some very big fish are very slow. However fast the small fish are they aren’t going to eat a far bigger fish. Trust me.
  • ‘The blue unicorn effect’. The point the writer was trying to make was that blue unicorns are rare. No they’re not. Unicorns, of any colour are not so much rare as mythical.
  • ‘Your social feed should tell a consistent and authentic story about who you are and what you care about’. No kidding. Did anyone ever really think that being totally inconsistent and inauthentic was ever going to work?
  • ‘Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better’. Sometimes LinkedIn resembles an electronic version of those naff motivational posters only ever seen in poster shops and US airlines’ in-flight shopping catalogues.

It’s also true that LinkedIn (and similar sites) gives a platform to those wishing to share the bleeding obvious.

Like the post I saw last week suggesting that agencies and clients are better off working collaboratively.

Or the one stating that after months (or even minutes) of thinking about it the author had concluded that the basic principles of commercial communication apply equally to those planning online media forms as to those old gits plugging away planning old-style ‘soon-to-be-dead’ media forms like TV.

All of this is pretty harmless, just as long as those doing the reading set these ‘insights’ into context.

We are an industry far too obsessed with the short-term and the latest gadget, gizmo, post and press release.

Even when we know full well that the facts, and the evidence point in a different, less glamourous direction we still latch on to the latest thing.

I miss editors, I really do!

To which point last week’s Cog Blog post on Dentsu Aegis wasn’t sufficiently clear on one point.

This post attracted more views than almost any other that’s appeared here. Several people contacted me by email or in person to add some specific colour to the points referencing Aegis’ top management.

So it’s important (at least to me) that we get things right.

The Aegis boss Jerry Buhlmann has referred to the fact that he sold his previous company BBJ to Aegis (last week’s post implied the same).

This, it turns out is not strictly correct and I’m grateful to someone intimately involved at the time for pointing this out.

When Buhlmann, Colin Jelfs and Nick Brien set up BBJ they were backed by their previous employers, WCRS (later Aegis) who took 75% of the equity with the owners maintaining 25%.

In due course Aegis, in setting up the Carat network, acquired what was then called TMD, and transferred the 75% to Carat UK.

When Jelfs and Brien left BBJ their shares were duly acquired.

So strictly speaking Jerry Buhlmann never sold BBJ, Aegis already owned it.


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