I once worked in an agency where the ECD who hired me was booted out the very day I joined, which was April Fool’s Day in the mid noughties. I wanted to leave the very next day. But instead I ended up staying over two years. I was a sr writer in one of the two teams. And I worked with a few art directors during my time there — a crazy and horny frenchman; a straightlaced, anger-issues guy who made several holes in a few walls over time (with his fist and foot); and a quiet and talented fellow who mumbled all the time. The place was a constant battle between suits and creatives; creatives usually lost because there was no real balance of power or real lust for work that would make us famous. Despite the obvious negatives in the agency, I worked my ass off over there. I did so because of all the people in creative. We were a team who wanted to do something special against all odds. We didn’t have a creative head for some time but we had each other. And we were a small group. The agency had sacked so many people after losing two massive accounts, I could move desks every month! Us few, we pitched endlessly, gave up weekends, busted our guts for several nasty clients, ate hundreds of pizzas, fought and loved each other. On the day I left, our creative and design team had doubled in size. We had grown our billings through sheer hard work and a heap of creative revisions. We made a real difference. All of us have moved on from that agency but for a few years we kept meeting up for reunion lunches and dinners. We weren’t just colleagues, we were friends. This is what I think being part of a creative team is really about. It’s about winning and losing together. Laughing and crying together. Pushing for good work over and over again because we believed in the power of creativity. Wherever you guys are right now, I want to say thank you. Thank you for being nice. For being mental. For the very late nights. For the intercom pranks. For the wild away days. I’ll never forget you and the stuff we did and accomplished together.
Today I attended an event by cp+b. Famous agency. They put on a show on stage, literally. Their message was about being and doing brave work. Targeted at potential clients. I walked away too early. I was bored. Bored that they were trying to be “brave in advertising”. Advertising has moved on. It’s not so much about saying stuff anymore. Not about being disruptive just so you can stand out in media—although that isn’t wrong thinking in itself. The inconvenient truth is that the game has changed. Rules have been rewritten. It’s now about rethinking the way we engage people. About making stuff for people that’s brand relevant. This “stuff” isn’t adlike. It builds brands. It creates brand preference. It changes behaviour. Does what adverts do. But differently because people have changed. I’m sorry, but hoopla isn’t enough anymore.
As part of a European Union-funded study on social media, we are running nine simultaneous 15-month ethnographic studies in eight countries. What we’ve learned from working with 16-18 year olds in the UK is that Facebook is not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried. Mostly they feel embarrassed even to be associated with it.
For anthropologists each media is best defined in relation to the others, what we call polymedia. So Facebook may look the same in 2014, but it has changed by virtue of this new competition. In my school research, the closest friends are connected to each other via Snapchat, WhatsApp is used to communicate with quite close friends and Twitter the wider friends. Instagram can include strangers and is used a little differently.
When asked what typically precipitates an agency change, three key issues emerge, “Dissatisfaction with creative work” (57%), “Change in marketing leadership” (53%), and “Lack of ability to deliver an integrated approach” (48%).
Asked what is the most important consideration when selecting an agency, 68% point to “Chemistry” with the proposed agency team; 62% decide based on “The belief that the creative presented is likely to be a Big Idea,” while 56% point to an agency’s ability to manage messages across channels as the key consideration. [JL: Integrated marketing communications]
People join creative agencies for a number of reasons. I joined Jam because of the opportunity to do great work. We need campaigns that stand out in a bland advertising world. Work that’s original, brave and a rule breaker of the best kind. We must fight for work like this. Demand more work like this. Stick by work like this. Because it’s precisely this kind of work that moves our industry and brands forward – that makes hot dates missed, sleep lost, weekends sacrificed, worth it.