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HOW AGENCIES
CAN SUCK LESS,
ATTRACT MORE
CREATIVE
TALENT, AND DO
BETTER WORK.
Imagine creative people literally lining up to
work with your agency? Imagine clients doing
the same? But how could an agency do this?
Agencies have seen an exodus of creative talent
over the years as they found them less
appealing places to work in, creative standards
have suffered, and competition has popped up
from all angles. Surely there are enough agency
owners or leaders out there who would actually
want their agencies to be like a moth to a flame
when it comes to attracting creative talent and
clients alike, and have a desire to produce great
work that doesn't simply blend in. I honestly
believe it is not an impossible goal.
Here’s a few ideas.
Rodd Chant
@roddchant
@chantcreative
@nothinglikeacreativeschool
© Rodd Chant 2019
Have the right creative leader.
The brief will change for every
agency of course but here is a
very succinct check-list that
should apply to all - *Has enough
experience in the role to make it
a success and as such can lead by
example. *Is confident enough in
their career achievements to not
have to be the idea creator. *Is a
true people person. *Ego is well
and truly in check. * Is not a dick.
Tick those boxes and you are in a
good place.
1.
© Rodd Chant 2019
2. Have a creative leader in a
position of power. If there is not a
creative sitting at the decision
making table in agency leadership
then you will inevitably have
issues. There can be no ‘us and
them’, it needs to be a team effort
from the top down. An agency
without creative leadership is just
an accounting firm with more
people wearing black.
© Rodd Chant 2019
3. Champion the creative work.
Agency management need to get
behind bigger and better
thinking, get excited about it,
believe in it, go to fight for it, and
get their clients excited about it
too. Far too many simply pay lip
service to the idea of pushing
creative work and that smoke &
mirrors show gets debunked
pretty fast and creative people
leave, so do clients who were
drawn in by that lip service.
© Rodd Chant 2019
4. No sweatshop mentalities.
There are no points gained for
longer hours at an agency
burning the midnight oil, it is soul
destroying for all involved,
it doesn’t produce better ideas,
and it kills the creative spirit.
Experienced creative leadership
stops this from happening as a
true creative leader knows how to
make decisions, on time, and stick
to them. All work and no play
makes for dull creativity.
© Rodd Chant 2019
5. Encourage and support
personal projects. Creative people
do more than what they do within
the confines of an agency, find out
what that is (at the interview
stage) and get behind it.
Show that you believe in them
beyond the work you're paying
them to do, this is what an agency
that really believes in creativity
would do.
© Rodd Chant 2019
6. School of thought. Help staff
grow and develop their careers
with both internal and external
education. Sure, they may leave
your agency at some stage, but
the more skills and talent they
develop while they are there the
better the work and environment
will be. This example of
management 101 says it best -
CFO: ‘What happens if we train
them and they leave?’
CEO: ‘What happens if we don’t
and they stay?’
© Rodd Chant 2019
7. Make it fun. Having a Free
Bagel Monday or a Fun Shirt
Friday is not fun, that is what a
HR person or CFO who listens to
Air Supply 24/7 thinks is fun.
If you truly want a creative
agency then get creative and
think of how to make your
environment and day-to-day
more interesting, enjoyable, and
different.
© Rodd Chant 2019
8. Think like the real competition.
I'm not talking about other
agencies here. Introduce some
innovation in-house, develop ideas
in the same mindset that the tech
world do. As Picasso said -'Great
artists steal', so steal from the likes
of Google, Instagram, and
Facebook. It's not 1960 and it's not
the Mad Men era, catch up.
Think about this - there's not one
person from advertising in Fast
Company's Most Creative People In
Business 2019 list. That's sad.
© Rodd Chant 2019
9. Less meetings, more making.
We lose so much time in meetings
in this business, many of them are
a waste of time, some could have
been resolved with an email.
Imagine if we dedicated more
time to actually creating and
making stuff? Keep essential
meetings short and to the point.
Have the equivalent of a swear jar
for people who organize too
many meetings - $100 per useless
meeting. Donate that money to
charity each month.
© Rodd Chant 2019
10. Work with clients not for
clients. Working as partners with
clients is much better than working
in servitude. Don't just be a line
item on a client's spreadsheet, be a
valuable and inclusive business
partner. Start a culture of bringing
big ideas and thinking to the
client's table, even if they haven't
asked for it - be proactive not
reactive. I believe this approach
would be quite attractive to
creative talent.
© Rodd Chant 2019
11. Be in a creative location. If your
office could happily accommodate
an accounting firm you're doing it
all wrong. Don't set up in a
standard CBD office building, that
already shows a lack of creativity.
If clients walk into an office that
resembles their own how can they
imagine your agency is a hotbed of
creativity? The same applies to
creative talent, it will not exactly
be an inspiring place to work.
Be different, be interesting,
be creative.
© Rodd Chant 2019
12. Create alternative revenue
channels. Develop your own
products or brands, this is where
that 'innovation mentality' also
comes into play. Start a clothing
line like the agency Acne did.
Or maybe apps like creative studio
Ustwo do. I can imagine creative
talent being excited about the
chance to work on something that
has internal ownership and thus
some more creative freedom.
© Rodd Chant 2019
13. Don’t run a prison. Let people
think from wherever they find
inspiration, encourage, actually no
don’t encourage instead enforce a
‘get the hell out of the office’
mentality. The best ideas don’t
come from sitting in an open plan
sterile environment under
mortuary grade lighting.
Set them free.
@roddchant
@chantcreative
@nothinglikeacreativeschool
© Rodd Chant 2019

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How advertising agencies can suck less.

  • 1. HOW AGENCIES CAN SUCK LESS, ATTRACT MORE CREATIVE TALENT, AND DO BETTER WORK.
  • 2. Imagine creative people literally lining up to work with your agency? Imagine clients doing the same? But how could an agency do this? Agencies have seen an exodus of creative talent over the years as they found them less appealing places to work in, creative standards have suffered, and competition has popped up from all angles. Surely there are enough agency owners or leaders out there who would actually want their agencies to be like a moth to a flame when it comes to attracting creative talent and clients alike, and have a desire to produce great work that doesn't simply blend in. I honestly believe it is not an impossible goal. Here’s a few ideas. Rodd Chant @roddchant @chantcreative @nothinglikeacreativeschool © Rodd Chant 2019
  • 3. Have the right creative leader. The brief will change for every agency of course but here is a very succinct check-list that should apply to all - *Has enough experience in the role to make it a success and as such can lead by example. *Is confident enough in their career achievements to not have to be the idea creator. *Is a true people person. *Ego is well and truly in check. * Is not a dick. Tick those boxes and you are in a good place. 1. © Rodd Chant 2019
  • 4. 2. Have a creative leader in a position of power. If there is not a creative sitting at the decision making table in agency leadership then you will inevitably have issues. There can be no ‘us and them’, it needs to be a team effort from the top down. An agency without creative leadership is just an accounting firm with more people wearing black. © Rodd Chant 2019
  • 5. 3. Champion the creative work. Agency management need to get behind bigger and better thinking, get excited about it, believe in it, go to fight for it, and get their clients excited about it too. Far too many simply pay lip service to the idea of pushing creative work and that smoke & mirrors show gets debunked pretty fast and creative people leave, so do clients who were drawn in by that lip service. © Rodd Chant 2019
  • 6. 4. No sweatshop mentalities. There are no points gained for longer hours at an agency burning the midnight oil, it is soul destroying for all involved, it doesn’t produce better ideas, and it kills the creative spirit. Experienced creative leadership stops this from happening as a true creative leader knows how to make decisions, on time, and stick to them. All work and no play makes for dull creativity. © Rodd Chant 2019
  • 7. 5. Encourage and support personal projects. Creative people do more than what they do within the confines of an agency, find out what that is (at the interview stage) and get behind it. Show that you believe in them beyond the work you're paying them to do, this is what an agency that really believes in creativity would do. © Rodd Chant 2019
  • 8. 6. School of thought. Help staff grow and develop their careers with both internal and external education. Sure, they may leave your agency at some stage, but the more skills and talent they develop while they are there the better the work and environment will be. This example of management 101 says it best - CFO: ‘What happens if we train them and they leave?’ CEO: ‘What happens if we don’t and they stay?’ © Rodd Chant 2019
  • 9. 7. Make it fun. Having a Free Bagel Monday or a Fun Shirt Friday is not fun, that is what a HR person or CFO who listens to Air Supply 24/7 thinks is fun. If you truly want a creative agency then get creative and think of how to make your environment and day-to-day more interesting, enjoyable, and different. © Rodd Chant 2019
  • 10. 8. Think like the real competition. I'm not talking about other agencies here. Introduce some innovation in-house, develop ideas in the same mindset that the tech world do. As Picasso said -'Great artists steal', so steal from the likes of Google, Instagram, and Facebook. It's not 1960 and it's not the Mad Men era, catch up. Think about this - there's not one person from advertising in Fast Company's Most Creative People In Business 2019 list. That's sad. © Rodd Chant 2019
  • 11. 9. Less meetings, more making. We lose so much time in meetings in this business, many of them are a waste of time, some could have been resolved with an email. Imagine if we dedicated more time to actually creating and making stuff? Keep essential meetings short and to the point. Have the equivalent of a swear jar for people who organize too many meetings - $100 per useless meeting. Donate that money to charity each month. © Rodd Chant 2019
  • 12. 10. Work with clients not for clients. Working as partners with clients is much better than working in servitude. Don't just be a line item on a client's spreadsheet, be a valuable and inclusive business partner. Start a culture of bringing big ideas and thinking to the client's table, even if they haven't asked for it - be proactive not reactive. I believe this approach would be quite attractive to creative talent. © Rodd Chant 2019
  • 13. 11. Be in a creative location. If your office could happily accommodate an accounting firm you're doing it all wrong. Don't set up in a standard CBD office building, that already shows a lack of creativity. If clients walk into an office that resembles their own how can they imagine your agency is a hotbed of creativity? The same applies to creative talent, it will not exactly be an inspiring place to work. Be different, be interesting, be creative. © Rodd Chant 2019
  • 14. 12. Create alternative revenue channels. Develop your own products or brands, this is where that 'innovation mentality' also comes into play. Start a clothing line like the agency Acne did. Or maybe apps like creative studio Ustwo do. I can imagine creative talent being excited about the chance to work on something that has internal ownership and thus some more creative freedom. © Rodd Chant 2019
  • 15. 13. Don’t run a prison. Let people think from wherever they find inspiration, encourage, actually no don’t encourage instead enforce a ‘get the hell out of the office’ mentality. The best ideas don’t come from sitting in an open plan sterile environment under mortuary grade lighting. Set them free. @roddchant @chantcreative @nothinglikeacreativeschool © Rodd Chant 2019