“The past decade has seen a sea change in how "startup" is perceived.
Once almost synonymous with risk, it's now associated with
entrepreneurship and nimble operations. Whereas it was previously
unthinkable for large global brands to partner with anything but a
large global agency, even the world's biggest marketers, such as
Unilever, are increasingly hooking up with small agencies.” 1
"Giant agencies are wobbling like drunkards… the rest of
you should be sharpening your knives" 2
“There’s been an award-winning short ﬁlm, a theatre
production of Eugene O’Neill’s play ‘The Hairy Ape’ and
the launch of their own honey brand, Amazing Stuff,
produced from bees kept on their London ofﬁce roof.” 4
“Rather than try and fracture the agency into these
type of discreet disciplines, we have clear
responsibility but open permission," says Warren. So
it’s clear what your role is but you've got permission
to do anything. We have just two departments thinkers and doers.” 7
“Success of small agencies depends on the ability to leverage
ﬂexibility and develop fresh ideas. Each team member must
be an expert at his or her job and develop additional skills,
depending upon the project. An account person may expand
into social strategy, an art director may create information
architecture, a tech lead may assist with content strategy” 9
“Producers, studio people, trafﬁc people, etc. Production values
are still valued at smaller agencies, but they don’t have to staff
the entire production process in-house, they can outsource some
or all of it. That means lower overhead, overall, but more
importantly it means a new kind of objectivity.” 10
“Of course, some large agencies are great. I'm
enamored with Wieden and Kennedy's work, and W+K
has created a great culture that promotes the concept
of failing quickly. Big agencies do have a competitive
advantage for many situations. “ 11
Are startup agencies like Creature shaping the advertising world and is it for the better?
Background (Not included in outline);
Firstly, what is meant by a startup agency?
Small and recent; basically. Opposite to traditional agencies in that they are made up of a
much smaller workforce, usually the creators have already been in the industry and
choose to create their own agency. Other times an agency will create a smaller ofﬁce in a
different country, which is independent and ﬁnds it’s own clients as well as building its
own reputation up.
A great example of this is Creature, with an existing ofﬁce in Seattle, in 2010 they
expanded over to the UK, opening a small ofﬁce which to date only has around 25
employees, compare that to BBH, a traditionally large agency with ofﬁces worldwide
which has nearly 1,000 employees.
Smaller startup agencies are shaping the advertising world and are stealing the
spotlight, but why? Taking Creature as an example it has a few factors. Not only the
previous success of the people at the top of the agency, but the mechanics of the agency
all contribute to what some may argue as the best way to work in the industry but why is
this better than more traditional agencies and what is causing this impact?
Slide 1; Known success of the creators;
They’ve been involved in industry in some form or another, generally at a larger
agency. As well as this it is commonplace for a lot of changing and moving within the
industry however starting your own agency, or a new ofﬁce for an existing agency
obviously comes with risk so it’s usually the more senior creatives who make the
Compared to bigger agencies that have been formed off the backs of investment and
Slide 2; Quality of previous work;
Coming from successful backgrounds means the agency will have good credentials
coming to their new venture, boasting amazing Showreels full of well known adverts,
this also has the potential to bring clients across with them, almost stealing them
from their previous agency.
Slide 3; Why Creature?
Bringing creatives and along with them some accounts is standard but what makes
Creature any different? The Creatives that started the London ofﬁce of Creature, Ben
Middleton, Ed Warren and Stuart Outhwaite, were Creative Directors at Mother, one
of the most highly acclaimed agencies in London of late. Producing memorable work
and bringing their own ethos’ and working habits from their previous agencies.
Warren said: "At Mother, we learnt a disrespect for traditional agency structures,
roles and work. This is something we hope to continue."
Slide 5; Showreel
Slide 6; The top people want to be involved
At traditional agencies there’s a set routine of how things work, the brief gets set by planners which
gets handed to the creative who then present to the creative director who then puts the work to the
client, however at smaller agencies the process is more
The main creative backing behind the agency will get involved in the clients needs, in the problems
and the solving of them
Slide 7; Everyone’s there for a reason
The people who are in the agency are there for a reason; they’re obviously good as only a select few are
in the agency.
Everyone adds their own unique element and everyone brings something to the table on every brief
Slide 8; More Cognitive
Smaller agencies have a more family oriented vibe and you’ll know everyone, becoming more of a unit
than individuals in one place, you’ll bounce off each other more and there is a sense of community, in
larger agencies you may not even know someone in your own department, let alone another
Slide 9; No Departments
The workspaces, generally, will be more open plan and everyone will contribute to all aspects of a
project, presentations will usually involve the entire agency rather than just the creative directors
and the creative team behind the work, giving feedback from all points of view and bringing better
ways of problem solving about.
Slide 10; Multi-functional
People’s skills will overlap and everyone is involved, meaning that you can get input from others in
every ﬁeld, sometimes from unexpected sources. Also everyone’s knowledge base will increase and
you grow as a unit rather than just individuals.
Slide 11; Outsourcing is cheaper
Production costs are often high and when agencies have departments within their agency
the cost is generally ﬁxed due to the wages of those employed working however if you’re a
small agency, outsourcing gives you the opportunity to work with those who you may know
previously or get a cheaper deal without compromising on quality.
Also the increasing use of digital work and social media means that sometimes these
departments may go unused on certain projects which is wasting money
Slide 12; Personal
Also with smaller agencies the people who work there build a relationship through the
client, often inviting the client to their agency to sort through plans
Slide 13; W+K
Some would argue that Wieden have the aesthetics of a smaller agency yet on a larger scale.
Slide 14; Why are they different?
Their principles are similar to that of smaller agencies, encouraging departments like
planning to work with the creative department, where as in more traditional agencies
sometimes departments don’t interact any more than the business requires.
Bridging the gap between newer and traditional, trying to take the best of both worlds.
Slide 15; W+K LDN
1998, not very old but still built a reputation for itself using W+K’s principles and has made
good work consistently
Slide 16; Showreel
Slide 17; Acquisitions
However the explosion of Creature and smaller agencies has still stolen the spotlight
and gained some huge accounts such as Carling and Adidas within the past year.
Whilst traditional agencies have usually dominated the advertising world, with the
development of digital work and more expansion into social media, more maneuverability and
ﬂexibility is needed by an agency. This is why smaller agencies are proving to be very
successful and the places people want to work. There’s no doubt that these start ups have
changed the way agencies do business and they’ve opened up more work for independent
design studios as well. Though this small community-led way of working will not be for
everyone as it does suit individual tastes however most would argue that agencies pulling in
these kinds of accounts with such huge inﬂuential creative backing it must be doing something
1) Small Shops Get Creative in Luring Talent From Bigger Agencies, AdAge
article/agency-news/dan-wieden-s-advice-small-agencies-learn-fail/243329/ > (Accessed 04 Nov 2013)
2) How Dan Wieden Learned To Fail, AdAge < http://adage.com/article/agency-news/dan-wieden-sadvice-small-agencies-learn-fail/243329/ > (Accessed 04 Nov 2013)
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www.campaignlive.co.uk/news/1052976/ > (Accessed 03 Nov 2013)
4) Creature Of London’s founders reveal their creative approach to agency life, Campaign < http://
www.campaignlive.co.uk/news/1161542/creature-londons-founders-reveal-creative-approach-agencylife/ > (Accessed 01 Nov 2013)
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willburns/2013/06/21/when-it-comes-to-advertising-agencies-small-can-be-big/ > (Accessed 07 Nov
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7) Campaign Website
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03 Nov 2013)
9) AdAge Website
10) Forbes Website
11) AdAge Website
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1171770/ > (Accessed 04 Nov 2013)
13) Welcome to Creature < http://www.welcometocreature.com/blog/tag/creature-of-london >
(Accessed 01 Nov 2013)
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MySocialFace < http://mysocialface.com/the-big-advertising-agencies-are-failing-their-clients/ > (Accessed 06 Nov 2013)
Vimeo < http://vimeo.com/creatureoﬂondon/videos > (Accessed 01 Nov 2013)
Wallblog < http://wallblog.co.uk/2013/08/09/lean-mean-ﬁghting-machine-can-we-do-well-by-doing-good/ > (Accessed 01 Nov 2013)
WKLondon < http://wklondon.typepad.com/welcome_to_optimism/2013/01/what-is-it-that-makes-wieden-kennedy-so-differentso-appealing.html > (Accessed 03 Nov 2013)
Brand Republic < http://www.brandrepublic.com/news/1171770/ > (Accessed 04 Nov 2013)
Brand Republic < http://www.brandrepublic.com/news/1176793/ > (Accessed 05 Nov 2013)
Welcome to Creature < http://www.welcometocreature.com/blog/tag/creature-of-london > (Accessed 01 Nov 2013)
Campaign < http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/news/1161542/creature-londons-founders-reveal-creative-approach-agency-life/ >
(Accessed 01 Nov 2013)
Campaign < http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/news/login/1175083/ > (Accessed 03 Nov 2013)
Clickz < http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2102243/digital-requires-remodeling-relic-agency-model > (Accessed 05 Nov 2013)
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07 Nov 2013)
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(Accessed 06 Nov 2013)
Marketing Donut < http://www.marketingdonut.co.uk/marketing/advertising/choosing-an-advertising-agency > (Accessed 05 Nov
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Wieden+Kennedy < http://www.wk.com/ > (Accessed 01 Nov 2013)
Creature < http://www.welcometocreature.com/ > (Accessed 01 Nov 2013)
LeanMeanFightingMachine < http://www.leanmeanﬁghtingmachine.co.uk/ > (Accessed 01 Nov 2013)
Wieden+Kennedy London < http://wklondon.com/ > (Accessed 01 Nov 2013)
Vimeo Creature Showreel < http://vimeo.com/43930806 > (Accessed 01 Nov 2013) !
Vimeo W+KLDN Showreel < http://vimeo.com/26911451 > (Accessed 04 Nov 2013)!
Mother London < http://www.motherlondon.com/ > (Accessed 01 Nov 2013)!
Kocialski, C., Startup from the Ground Up: Practical Insights for Transforming an Idea Into a
Business, Createspace, 2010
Wilcox, A., Startup Savvy: Strategies for Optimizing Small Business Survival and Success,
Fig 1; Still from moneysupermarket.com TV Advert < http://www.motherlondon.com/ul//assets/
MoneySupermarket-Helmet-bump-0.jpg?width=540&height=360&crop=auto > (Accessed 05 Nov
Fig 2; Still from Stella Artois TV Advert < http://www.motherlondon.com/ul//assets/
QuestMain-0.JPG?width=540&height=360&crop=auto > (Accessed 08 Nov 2013)
Fig 3; Creature Showreel < http://vimeo.com/43930806 > (Accessed 01 2013)
Fig 4; Honda Grrr Print Advert < http://wklondon.com/work_uploads/Honda/Grrr/Honda-GrrrPrint-700.jpg > (Accessed 02 Nov 2013)
Fig 5; Wayne Rooney Nike Print Advert < http://adsoftheworld.com/sites/default/ﬁles/images/
2_WC_Rooney.jpg > (Accessed 07 Nov 2013)
Fig 6; W+K London Showreel < http://vimeo.com/26911451 > (Accessed 04 Nov 2013)
Fig 7; Caring ‘Trick Shot’ Video < http://vimeo.com/68053779 > (Accessed 06 Nov 2013)
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