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.
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