The agencies of the 3 consonants and us the freelancers.

By: Agencia Pópuli - 22/03/2023

Opinion Column by Eduardo Ortega del Rio

When I began my transition from film production to advertising, there was still the idea that the real advertising agencies were only those whose names had three or four consonants attached to unpronounceable surnames for Spanish.

Back then I was a filmmaker influenced by Lars and Thomas’ Dogma 95, of 8mm film shot with handheld cameras, of making films in MiniDV mixing reality and fiction in stories that broke the paradigms of what were once unbreakable genres and formats. I don’t know if we did it out of the rebelliousness of calling ourselves the new storytellers or third world filmmakers without a dime in our pockets. The reality is that this, plus the democratization of audiovisual technology, ended up transforming the film industry. And the same thing happened, fortunately for freelance creatives like me, to the advertising market.

It is increasingly common to find agencies at major festivals that, just as in our youth when we dared to break schemes in cinema, are breaking them with colossal creativity that manages to crystallize in projects with enviable scopes for media centers. Thanks to the phenomena of going viral in digital communities, we achieved campaigns with an ROI that no planner in a suit could have predicted.

In Colombia, although consonant agencies still dominate the big budgets, there are those bold enough to dare to dream. Medium-sized and some large advertisers are already seeing in us freelancers, as talent that dares to break schemes and think differently. With faster responses, personalized attention and, although it is hard to admit it, lower costs.

The most positive is the contribution to the growth of an industry that employs mainly recent graduates. About 18,000 young people including technicians, technologists, undergraduate professionals in design, audiovisual production, journalism, advertising, and digital marketing begin their careers in these agencies. The market has become dynamic, and the great challenge is to ensure quality employment, well paid, and that these young people are presented with attractive alternatives for professional growth.

It is also fair to admit that some colleagues, in their eagerness to get accounts, have destabilized the pricing market. And some advertisers fish in murky waters by establishing their own contracting conditions, standing out in the “braking companies” payment terms and putting their own value on ideas.

But to define fair rules in the face of the suffocation of several agencies and the advertising market in general, “UNEMEC” (National Union of Strategic Marketing and Communications Companies) arrived as a breath of fresh air.

A guild that is managing to unite freelance agencies together with those of the consonants under the same purpose. To have a strong spokesperson that represents in a comprehensive and inclusive way all the companies in the industry. Because we need dialogue and support from advertisers with more favorable conditions for all, with greater transparency in bidding processes and, of course, fair payments, not only in terms of deadlines but also in the remuneration of ideas. To retain talent, support academia, and cultivate a better creativity based on innovation processes hand in hand with technological advances. UNEMEC is an opportunity for those of us who have all the desire to grow, and collaborative support for the agencies of the consonants that understood that we, rather than a threat, are an opportunity to challenge and support each other collaboratively and thus together, continue to develop the Colombian advertising market.

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