Your Book vs. Your Agency

So you've probably already heard that the new CEO of CP+B is Andrew Keller (seen below taking a punch from CCO Rob Reilly).

Here's an interesting quote from Andrew in Creativity:

"At the very beginning, I felt like I did something different than what the industry teaches us to do...I wasn't thinking about my book, I was thinking about how to make the agency the best it could be."

This goes against advice I've given in this blog, and to students my entire career. I still think it's a solid philosophy. But I also think it's a pretty interesting approach Andrew took. (And probably one of a ton of reasons why he is where he is today.)

What do you think? Who should you be working for?

The latest batch of inspiration

Used to be, you had to wait for the One Show annual to come out for some mind-blowing inspiration. Now you just have to wait for someone to compile it and tweet it.

Here's some pretty fascinating stuff. Not necessarily advertising. But worth delving into.



99% of the time, complaining is a waste of your time and energy.

There are rare instances when you might have to complain (say, if a client's abusive to juniors, but super pal-y with seniors). But in almost every instance I can think of, doing trumps complaining.

Don't like the feedback from your CD? Act on it anyway and see where it takes you.
Don't like the feedback from your client? Ditto.
Don't like the way your office operates? Figure out what you can do to change it.
Don't like the way your agency's run? Find another one.

Doing > Complaining

Ads as Art?

Years ago, Mark Fenske wrote a piece for the the VCU Adcenter (now Brandcenter) titled "Ads is Art." I wish I had a copy of it. It sparked an interesting conversation in the class I was teaching at the time because, while in spirit advertising and art can be pretty close (especially in ad school), there are some major differences. You only need to watch about two minutes of a commercial break to see that very little real advertising should even be considered in this conversation.

I recently finished the book Adland, by former copywriter and creative director James Othmer. In it, he actually asks Fenske this very question. Is advertising art? He gets a gruff snort from Fenske. Then, after some consideration, Othmer gives what I think is the most insightful answer to the question I've ever heard:

"It doesn't matter whether I think advertising is art. What matters is whether its creator does."

There Goes The Neighborhood

In the spirit of agency videos, here's one on Mother NY's move to Hell's Kitchen.

Compared to Firstborn's, what do you think?

More On Branding An Agency

Last month, I posted about Modernista’s statement on its website: “Modernista is not for everyone.” (Although they recently changed their site from the Webby award-winning “overlay” format to a safer one that’s full of words about their full range of services.)

Anyone who watches Mad Men saw Don Draper issue a similar statement this season when he took out a letter stating that Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce would not work for cigarette accounts. Setting aside the moral dubiousness of being the Lucky Strike agency one moment, then taking a moral stand the next, Don essentially put a stake in the ground and said, “this is the kind of agency we are. Take it or leave it.” (Apparently, Jay Chiat, among others, ran similar ads on tobacco back in the day.)

As Greg has pointed out, “Look at the ABOUT US section on most agency sites and it will say, ‘We are a full-service marketing communications agency, specializing in broadcast advertising, digital media, corporate branding and public relations.’” The same is true of most agency videos. They’ll talk about changing media (duh), the need to make lasting, meaningful relationships with consumers (no kidding), and that social media has shifted conversations blah blah blah blah. We rarely do a good job of distinguishing our own agencies from all the others out there (ironic, since building memorable brands is our job).

Here’s a video from Firstborn that says pretty much everything most agency websites say (client roster, quick portfolio of work, importance of technology, a sense of the agency’s culture).

It conveys all of this without the use of a narrator or flashy titles. I think it does a pretty good job. At the very least, it makes me feel something about the agency (isn’t that what we try to do with most of our work—get someone to feel something?).

What do you think?

On Sloppiness

When a writer puts an ad on the wall in class, and it has THERE instead of THEIR, or when someone emails me a script that’s obviously missing a word, or a designer sends campaign or presentation layouts with inconsistent fonts, or a director sends a treatment with the product misspelled, it feels sloppy. Sloppy is different from an honest mistake. It’s different from an idea that isn’t quite working yet. Sloppy says that you didn’t take the time to do a quick read-through before you shared your work. Sloppy says that you had more important things to do. Sloppy says you don’t really care. It’s a pain in the ass to work with somebody who doesn’t care. Even on the crappy assignments, the ones that don’t stand a chance of ever going in your book, you should care about your craft and how it reflects on you.

So make mistakes. Just don’t be sloppy.

"You will be fierce. You will be warriors."

One of the greatest storytellers on the planet talks about what it takes to do creative work. Thanks to Kevin for his original post.

Stop Being Such a Baby

At some point in your career, you're going to be a junior creative who no longer wants to live under the title "junior creative."

Maybe it’s wanting to shed a label you think no longer applies. Maybe it’s wanting more of the creative opportunities that usually go to the senior creatives. Maybe it’s just about ego. Whatever the reason, getting people to see you as something more than a junior creative can be harder than it should be.

Here are a few ways you can stop being a junior. With two caveats:

  1. This has nothing to do with politics, brown-nosing, or acting like someone you’re not. That stuff will get you nowhere.
  2. Reasons for advancing vary from agency to agency. The size of the shop and your relationship to the people in it have a lot to do with it.

Work hard.

Duh. If you produce great work, it will be recognized. By your bosses. Your peers. Headhunters and other agencies. Just make sure you don’t confuse working hard with treading water.

Stay at the same place for a long time.

Some places may promote you eventually. This requires patience and the afore mentioned “hard work.” But when you’re not only invested in the company’s culture, but you’ve helped maintain and build it, you should be bumped up eventually.

Ask for a promotion.

Tell your CDs that you want to advance. That you want to spearhead a pitch. Or have more facetime with the client. Don’t expect it to happen immediately. But let them know where you see yourself in five years. Then do what it takes to put yourself there.

Be lucky.

You have so little control over this, it’s almost not worth mentioning. But there it is.

Get another job.

This is probably the most effective way for junior creatives to become non-junior creatives. New agency. New faces. Suddenly no one knows you as a junior. It's also probably the most effective way to increase your salary. Just remember, the better your work, the better chance you have of getting the job and opportunities you want. It always comes back to the work.

One Way to Get a Job

Rather than sending their books out to agencies, this Swedish team created a site where potential employers can create their own pizzas which will be delivered along with the interview.

Not a bad idea if you're shopping around in one city. I'd be interested to know what these guys will do if they get an interview in London or somewhere outside of Stockholm.

Please note: The idea of giving away free pizza with an interview isn't really what makes this work. It's just a nice bonus.