Shortly before Christmas 2016, I joined the team at Guns or Knives. Beforehand I was on what’s commonly referred to within the agency as “the client side”. I joined the agency wanting to be part of a team that brings creative ideas to clients and in turn their consumers. I was expecting a fast-paced environment and so far, I haven’t been wrong! It’s been an interesting transition getting used to how things are done on the other side of the table.
The Move from Client to Agency
So what has it been like so far? Well for one, as a client you don’t really understand the inner workings of an agency or how work is produced. There’s a misconception that people in agencies are sitting around all day on bean bags or drinking coffee until you phone them with work right? WRONG. As a client you can be demanding without realising, and time is almost always of the essence when you realise that you’re going to need your agency to produce something for you. I think back to a time when as a client I’d get in touch with what I might have considered a minor request to be told that it mightn’t be doable in the time frame. “What do you mean? What are you doing all day?”, you say to yourself in your head. I realise now that any last-minute requests or additions I’d previously never given a second thought to are actually scientifically scheduled, briefed and produced to within an inch of their lives. By who, you ask? Well, by a team of what can only be described as super-humans operating behind the scenes that you never even knew about. “Can we come up with another line? What about a deck to help us sell in that idea internally? Can you give me a couple more options?” Amends, amends, amends. Adding to what’s already scheduled is upsetting the proverbial creative applecart and hasn’t been resourced in for completion.
Clients can assume that because you’re a creative agency, you can just switch on the magical, mystical ideas tap when a brief comes in. “It’s been 4 hours, why hasn’t the idea been cracked yet?”. A good creative idea cannot be produced on demand; often the time to produce one is underestimated from a client’s perspective.
Another thing, when you’re a client, you never think that your agency has any others, apart from you of course. Then, you phone to get through and you’re told they’re in a meeting. “Who else could they be meeting? Maybe their phone’s on silent…Is it needy if I phone again? Maybe I’ll just send an email”. They get back to you and you convince yourself you’re obviously still their favourite.
Having been on both sides has definitely benefited me at the agency. Being able to see from both perspectives allows me to explain things to clients that I know they might find easier to swallow if they know what the process is. You can pre-empt questions they might have, and explain accordingly.
So what do I enjoy most about agency life? Well, lots.
The word dynamic often gets bandied around when it comes to an employer giving you the sell for why you should want to work there. But never has it been as genuinely accurate as the move to my new agency life. The pace is the lifeblood of the agency and there’s never a dull moment. I never look at the clock. The only time I do is to make sure I’m on time for my next meeting or to see how quickly time has gone by. Mornings go by in a flash. I find myself wishing for more hours in the day.
There’s another term I’d often heard of but not fully realised until now. The culture that goes along with working within the Rothco group is genuinely special. It’s more than just a place to work, there’s a culture there. Culture is difficult to get right and even more difficult to replicate. The agency is like a homing device for people who want to create great things and are passionate about doing so.
What I love about working in the agency is the collaborative nature of the work. There’s an in-house expert for everything. Each division overlaps with another and no one great thing can be produced without consulting another. The benefit of working in gangs is apparent, more is achieved when you’re engaged and challenged by your peers.
Everyone is allowed to be themselves. Profanity is accepted although not actively encouraged. There is no corporate mumbo jumbo. We tell it like it is. Buzz words, sling yer’ hook.
I think the passion that each of us have for what we do is what unites us. We all have that in common. We’re like a tribe.
The knowing you’re part of something special, not knowing when the next great idea will descend. If magic is the lifeblood then the building beats like a collective heart for good work.
Is it challenging? Yes. Do I regret it? Not for a second. #chooseyourweapons