Sep 16, 2007

Sometimes It Really Doesn't Matter What They're Saying About You

Many tears have been shed in the geekosphere about a column/blog entry written by Ad Age's Jonah Bloom about 2.0 guru Joseph Jaffe, wherein Bloom basically calls Jaffe the world's most effective practitioner of doublespeak.

Now given that the occasion for Jaffe's admittedly buzzword-stuffed post was the departure of three of his not-an-agency's top brass (the CEO, the Creative Director and someone else) the fact that Bloom, one of Ad Age's top columnists, was even writing about him is pretty impressive.

Call it succeeding by wildly failing (Jaffe's Second Life misadventures were the subject of a particularly nasty piece in Wired called "How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions In A Deserted Second Life.") but his not-an-agency Crayon is top of a lot of people's minds these days.

And that can't be a bad thing, despite the fact that his supporters are all up in arms about Bloom's "schoolyard bully tactics" (for real.) Truth is, all that press-- good, bad or otherwise-- has put him top of mind for a lot of pre-2.0 marketing and advertising people. None of whom actually know anyone in the 2.0 space, so by default, he's become their man, the name they can drop to show just how au courant they really are.

I mean just last week the Wall Street Journal did a story on the shortcomings of Agency.com and mentioned that among other shortcomings, Agency.com was the old new thing and that shops like Crayon were the new new thing.

So if I were you Joe, I'd be grinning real wide right about now. When a guy like Bloom calls you out, all it does is give you visibility, credibility and above all, legitimacy. You're now worthy of AdAge's anger and you're obviously on their radar. That' something thousands of small start-up agencies would pay big money for.

14 comments:

David said...

Yeah ... well Agency.com were the talk of the town after their Subway video fiasco. Didn't do them too much good - as you point out! I advise Crayon to batten down the hatches for a while (and keep Jaffe the f-k away from the keyboard).

Geoff_Livingston said...

As you so eloquently points out it does legitimize crayon as a major force in the biz (maybe past force is the right word). Though I must say Tangerine that I don't think any of my clients would ever see such coverage as a positive moment.

It's not Madonna or Lohan faux paus here -- it's advertising creative contracts worth $100k or more. And so the Ad Age rant may really hurt crayon's ability to garner future business. If there was more balance to the article with some facts behind it -- the negative story could have been more justified.

CK said...

Don't know if I fully agree here. Yes, the agency can be top of mind for those execs that actually read blogs...or Wired (Seriously speaking I cannot believe that the majority read either. Yet.).

Then again, I'm not of a "any press is good press" mind. I don't think you are, either.

The real problem are the messages of "TV advertising is dead!" and "the majority don't get it!" are ineffective. If they were effective, then we'd see more movement in this space. These are far too alarming for the lucrative accounts that agencies like these need. And those clients need time to start investing more $$ in this space.

And we all need less mangled jargon...which was much of Bloom's rant--that jargon is not at all limited to one company, a lot of us do it.

Make the logo bigger said...

This is the same Bloom that had good things to say about Julie Roehm, yah?

Just checking.

Mitch Joel said...

Full Disclosure: I consider Joe a friend.

I think it's far too easy for people who have never been involved in an entrepreneurial endeavour to take pot shots at a company that's only 10 months old.

If Joe didn't have the struggles of changing business models and people leaving at this point, I'd be even more surprised.

Joe's decided to be public about everything and, as we know, that just makes you an easy target.

I look back on the first years at the many start-ups I have been involved with and shudder at what I thought it would be versus what it became.

Judging an Entrepreneurial start-up, at this point, just seems a little premature to me.

David said...

Let's remember that Bloom's rant wasn't about Crayon, so much as Jaffe's (I quote) "bullshit bingo". He wasn't "judging a start up", he was commenting on Jaffe's writing. (And I think we all admit it was pretty bad). Everyone else seems to have drawn their own inferences about whether Crayon has imploded or not...

Toad said...

Great to log on this AM and see all these comments.

@David: I hear what you're saying, but agency.com was well-known at the time of the Subway fiasco. Granted some of my more general-agency oriented friends were surprised that they pitched accounts the same way general agencies did (not sure exactly what they thought they did) but they were already on people's radars.

@Geoff: Given how Jaffe courts controversy-- that's basically how he's built his name, right, by making very antagonistic statements about "old media" and providing reliable sound bites-- then maybe being part of a controversial article may work for him in Lohan-ish way.

@CK: It's less that Crayon can be top-of-mind as that I doubt a lot of these people even know there are agencies like Crayon out there. It's just a name for them to drop, but Jaffe, as I mentioned above, does provide a reliable sound bite, a tactic that serves people well in today's media environment.

@MTLB: One and the same. But I wouldn't judge him on that interview-- he's one of the few ad journos who does more than just regurgitate press releases.

@Mitch Joel: David's right-- Bloom was critiquing Jaffe's purple prose, not his company. Some student PR blogger wrote something about the viability of Crayon-- maybe you're thinking of that?

TT

Anonymous said...

But perhaps it is a bad thing. Because if you're a marketing decision maker that has to chose a social media agency or a ad exec who seeks to partner with a social media agency and your business consulting company is Deloitte Touche and your'e happy with them and then you read this supposed beacon of social media awareness calls your consulting company Toilet and Douche and then you find that said beacon is losing half of his team and is all by his lonesome this vast emptyness called Second Life, you're gonna have second thoughts.

Melvin said...

Oh dear. Jaffe is at it again on another blog - buzzwords galore and now dissing the staff who left ...
"The other lesson is that it is absolutely essentially to staff up with 100% motivated, self-starters…with the ability not only to work and thrive remotely, but also the intuition, drive and proactive ability to stay connected to the hub or base."
When will he learn?

Toby said...

Toad - Thanks for continuing this conversation. As main stream media and social media blur lines expectations of "What's it all about Alfie" (sorry I'm writing From NYC) need to be considered.

I am a bit confused about this idea tho - "all it does is give you visibility, credibility and above all, legitimacy" - in reference to crayon. How can that be when the post bashed the founder? I'd think twice and three times before calling up that company .. especially if that sentiment came from a senior editor of a respected trade pub. That was the heart of the concept of the post that seemed to get lost.

Looking forward to our real time conversation this week. You won't think less of me if I let Greg buy me a martini :-)

Lewis Green said...

I agree with Toad, Toby. Bloom didn't bash Joe. I have read Bloom's piece over and over and can't see where it was personal at any level. Bloom bashed Joe's writing and deservedly so. Joe's release was PR crapola at its worst.

As an entrepreneur, I have no problem nor am I surprised that any start-up agency struggles, especially virtual ones such as Joe's and mine. It takes a long time to build a client list and cash flow. But I do expect agencies to be able to communicate clearly and concisely.

For whatever reason, and maybe Joe was simply having a bad day, I've been there, his release suffered from puffery and Bloom said so. By the way, Bloom's writing on this post is nothing to praise either. That may be why so many of us are coming down on different sides of what he said.

Toad said...

@Toby: I don't think anyone who'd be interested in Jaffe would be put off by Bloom's column. Another company, yes, but if you're buying into Jaffe, you're buying into a guy who calls Deloitte and Touche "Toilet and Douche" (http://www.jaffejuice.com/2007/08/old-thinking-fr.html)
then you're buying into his outspokenness and all the baggage that comes with it.
Including a dis from a young Ad Age columnist.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Jaffe needs to understand that he's running a business now. A business that others are involved in, others that value their own personal business reputations. It isn't just him. He's running a business that will need to rely on personal and profssional relationships. As social media becomes more mainstream, it won't be an add on or the hot new thing that necessitates an renegade like Joseph. He's running a business that can be blogged about in the blogosphere just as anything else can.

Mr. Jaffe needs to respect the overall business he is in (marketing/advertising/PR) a bit more, because if he doesn't, people will chose to shit on him.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Jaffe needs to understand that he's running a business now. A business that others are involved in, others that value their own personal business reputations. It isn't just him. He's running a business that will need to rely on personal and profssional relationships. As social media becomes more mainstream, it won't be an add on or the hot new thing that necessitates an renegade like Joseph. He's running a business that can be blogged about in the blogosphere just as anything else can.

Mr. Jaffe needs to respect the overall business he is in (marketing/advertising/PR) a bit more, because if he doesn't, people will chose to shit on him.