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08/03/2007 - par Mark Tungate

It was fashion week last week, but at a soirée at Le Bon Marché, a glass of champagne in my hand, I was not talking about fashion - but about advertising. I'd bumped into a young American guy who's worked for some of the most prestigious agencies in the world, but who'd decided to quit the business. « I'm fed up with putting lipstick on peoples' pigs, » was how he described the advertising industry, rather amusingly. Apparently, he made the decision when a mobile telephone company told him they wanted their ads to be aspirational. He laughed at them. All advertising should be aspirational, he said. And besides, the word doesn't even exist - it was invented by advertising people.

So what does he want to do, this young man of strong opinions ? His idea is to set up a new kind of agency that actually makes things. He would help his clients invent products. He would work with them to design the product, package it, launch and market it. His agency would have equity stake in the product, so if it sells well, he becomes richer. There's a similar agency in New York called Anomaly ­(anomalynyc.­com), which creates intellectual property that it licenses to clients. And in ­London there is one called What If ? ­(whatifinnovation.­com) ; both go beyond the cliché of the 360° marketing company. The advertising industry should take lessons from them - and from the guy I met. They are the future. And the thing about the future is that it very quickly becomes the present.

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