The Bad, the Good and the Ugly In de­fense of an ef­fi­cient creative cul­ture


The In­ter­nal Setup

‘Agency Cul­ture’ truly ex­ists and I ex­pe­ri­enced huge dif­fer­ences be­tween agen­cies through­out my ca­reer. While some have a very strong cul­ture and hold fast to the in­ter­na­tional net­work val­ues and phi­los­o­phy, oth­ers dra­mat­i­cally lack these, as they do not ap­ply on a lo­cal level.

Work­ing at the lat­ter, the cre­atives are per­ceived as the pro­duc­tion unit, or work­ers who should de­liver and com­plete their tasks then go home, sleep a bit, and come to work the next day and do it all over again, which is sim­i­lar to work­ing at a print­ing fac­tory.

The over­all mind­set at those agen­cies is that cre­atives are the blue-col­lar work­ers and the client-ser­vic­ing depart­ment Oc­to­ber 2016 com­prises the white-col­lar em­ploy­ees. This model per­sists even when that same agency evolves to­wards a more mod­ern or­gan­i­sa­tion. In other words, the old­fash­ioned men­tal­ity lingers long af­ter the changes are ap­plied.

Some­times, the prob­lem is clearly spe­cial. The client-ser­vic­ing depart­ment is lo­cated on the up­per floor where the re­cep­tion area is along­side the con­fer­ence rooms. On a dif­fer­ent floor, you find the creative and pro­duc­tion de­part­ments with the stu­dios down­stairs in an area that is al­most never fre­quented by out­siders.

The ex­pla­na­tion is sim­ple: they are here to work and not to be dis­turbed, be­cause creative minds tend to be a bit lazy, so it’s bet­ter to iso­late them so they can con­cen­trate on their jobs…

In some kind of agen­cies, the creative is at the cen­ter of ev­ery­thing. He’s viewed as the one bring­ing the added value.

In this case, this makes me won­der why the client ser­vic­ing peo­ple and cre­atives are not in­ter­act­ing fur­ther. Af­ter all, it would be much health­ier and pro­duc­tive for the man­age­ment to build the right syn­ergy within the agency.

The Ad­van­tages/dis­ad­van­tages

In the first kind of agency, the creative is at the cen­ter of ev­ery­thing. He’s viewed as the one bring­ing the added value. At the end of the day, the creative’s work will be shared with the pub­lic. Here, the ex­cel­lence cri­te­ria is more in terms of awards and qual­ity than in terms of dead­lines and amount of work ac­com­plished.

The real dif­fer­ence be­tween agen­cies is a pre-es­tab­lished gen­eral at­ti­tude, a dom­i­nant philo­soph­i­cal hi­er­ar­chy: who is al­lowed to think? In some agen­cies, the cre­atives are the star thinkers and the ac­count di­rec­tors should lis­ten, un­der­stand, build, fol­low the trend, raise their con­cerns, and try to please their clients.

At other agen­cies, the client ser­vic­ing peo­ple and plan­ners con­sider them­selves the thinkers, who in some cases, also have

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