Cheryl Bergeron, Chief Creative Director, Rooster Strategic Solutions
The organizational rules around an agency creative staff are simple and well-established: Hire young, low-cost talent; use an account executive to shield the creatives from the clients; weed out the creatives by working them to the bone, promoting a few and releasing the rest. Rinse, and repeat. For the larger clients, you may need to introduce them to senior creatives in the early stages, before passing the work off to less experienced – and cheaper – workers.
It’s a standard system because it works. Meaning that it’s highly profitable for the agency. But what if there was a better way, a system that rewards the clients, as well as the agency?
Creative Thinking. Recently, Rooster was invited into a brand strategy session for a new client. We included the creatives who would work on that account. The copywriter was able to sum up the four hours of discussion and articulate the brand position so powerfully and concisely that it became the inspiration not just for building the brand but for the whole campaign. The art director immediately began talking about an aesthetic. And because the entire team shared in creating the vision, everyone was invested in staying true to it through the rest of the process. Bringing in the creative team early made them care more. It made the client and account team care more. The result was better, more impactful work. A win all the way around.
It’s not rocket science. But in order to implement a system like this successfully, there are some fundamental changes that an agency must undertake.
Hire proven performers. The average creative at Rooster has 10-plus years of experience, most of it in the ag industry. Our clients respect this experience because they don’t have to explain their business or go-to-market strategies. We already get it. This means we can start collaborating immediately. And because there are fewer back-and-forth steps required, the clients get better quality work, faster, for the same amount of investment.
Trust them to work directly with the client. Because our creatives are more experienced, we’re comfortable putting them in front of any of our clients. Getting insights firsthand has proven to improve the overall quality of the final output. Our creatives better understand the goals of the campaign, as well as the language the clients use, which reduces the amount of “ad-speak,” or worse, tone-deaf messaging.
Trust their instincts. Recognizing that a copywriter or designer might have a good idea about something beyond a headline or a typeface is hard for a lot of agencies. I literally had an account manager tell me once that it was his job to think, and it was my job to execute what he told me to! But if you’re staffed with experienced, low-ego team players, you’d be a fool not to listen to them. Don’t get me wrong – we have equally experienced account professionals and planners on staff, and everything we deliver has an idea behind it that ties back to initial strategy. But letting our creatives help develop this initial strategy just makes sense. It enables them to do better work, and they bring fresh ideas to the table that we wouldn’t otherwise have.
Why aren’t more agencies adopting this new system for their creatives? Because it benefits the clients more than the agency, and this requires longer-term thinking than many agencies are willing to allow. But if you’re looking for new ideas, are tired of repeating your goals and plans, or simply want to make more efficient use of your meeting time with your partners, I’d love to start a conversation.