People have often asked why I started my own agency. If you know me, you probably know the long list of reasons: freedom. Fun. Self-determination. Desire to right the wrongs of advertising.
But, actually, I find stories more indicative of why I felt the need to create a different kind of agency.
Here’s one such story.
Six months before I launched the agency, I was told to skip lunch because I had to “receive a very important briefing.” And sure enough, at noon, six professionals filed into my office and filled my sofa and chairs. For the most part, they were all smart and delightful co-workers. There were 3 planners and 3 account people, all in their 20s. Combined, the six of them had about half of my advertising experience.
Over the next 45 minutes, the lead planner, a very talented woman, delivered a thorough and thoughtful brief.
She described a new bacon promotion idea for our Quick Serve Restaurant client. She went into minute detail about “the thought behind it.” “What we were thinking when we came up with it.” “The genesis of the idea.” “The inspiration of its name.”
At the end of this tour de force, she finally stopped, took a breath and asked if I had any questions. I looked at her and her five colleagues and said, “Yes.” They braced themselves, ready to defend their brief en masse.
“You all know that I created this concept, right?” I said. They all answered in unison. “Yes” “Sure. “Of course.”
“So, then…why did you spend the last hour telling me what I was thinking when I thought of it?”
Again, the chorus sung out. “It’s our job.” “The process.” “Our responsibility.”
I sat there kind of dumbstruck. Seven people spent their lunch hour – and several thousand dollars of the client’s money in billable hours – so that I could be told what I was thinking. Would you tell an author what he was thinking when he wrote a book? Or tell an artist what she was thinking when she painted a picture?
Of course not. Unless, you wanted to protect your silo. Cover your ass. Justify your salary. Defend your turf. Control the process. And everything else that is wrong with our industry
That’s when I knew.