Sep 5, 2008

The Agency Commandments

People always ask, what makes a place great to work at? What would an agency need for one to like working there? What differentiates a good agency from a bad one? People think there’s some quantum theory to achieve this when there isn’t. Just think of all the shit places you’ve worked at and apart from realizing there’s an underlying pattern of redundancy, you’ll know what you need to make your work environ a better place. I’ve thought long and hard (which means this is a spur of the moment rant since I’m at the office past 12 again) and I was able to conjure up 10 wonderful little rules that if followed, won’t guarantee a perfect place, but at least it’ll have a healthy head start.

1. Thou shalt honor thy workforce.

Way too often worker bees are taken for granted. You know how I know that? Because I'm a fucking worker bee and I know to the extent one's efforts and sacrifices aren't appreciated. Employees have lives and guess what, so should higher members of the hierarchy. Treat your workers with respect and consideration and if there is one who is ungrateful or problematic, see the next commandment.

2. Thou shalt eliminate genuinely problematic employees.

It could be an asshole VP, a diva creative, an alcoholic media planner or a shitty receptionist. Shit can go anywhere if not flushed properly and honestly, you don't want a rotten apple giving bad ideas to people. Agency owners would probably say that the turnover rate is too high or that finding the right people is too hard. With the second comment I have no problem because really, it IS hard to find the right people for the right job. That's why you should do as the first commandment and honor them once you find them. Having trouble separating the crap from the cream? It's real simple. If someone is an asshole AND offers no corporate contribution then why do they still have a job? I'm fucking dumbfounded at the amount of shitty people who maintain their jobs via scare tactics and brilliant self selling. Don't buy the bullshit, offer two warning to be kind and if you are met with genuine non compliance, after passing through the correct channels. Fire them AND tell them why they are being fired just in case they want to try a lawsuit on for size.

3. Thou shalt do thy damndest to find good clients.

Good clients are NOT a dime a dozen. They might be hard headed, but they pay on time, at the very least occasionally allow good work, don't send revisions every 20 minutes and are either on the same page or out of your roster.

4. Thou shalt honor thy fine clients.

Keep a client happy and you will be able to work efficiently, do decent work and send them a fruit basket because you like them and not because it's protocol.

5. Thou shalt honor the Sabath and Sundayth.

Weekends should be sacred. Period.

6. Thy equipment shall forever be up to date.

Coming from a copywriter, you can bet your ass I consistently get the bottom of the stock pile of office equipment. I've had to work on Power Macs in the last 5 years and I've gone through more computers than a hooker goes through cheap condoms.

7. Thou shalt offer incentives to people who do excellent work.

For better or worse, we live in a capitalist society and we work on incentives. Just in case, incentives don't have to be cash prizes even though we love them. A dinner, a lunch, a weekend stay, a week off just because, products from the clients we slave off for.

8. Thou shalt preach, believe, and practice empathy.

This goes for everyone. Middle management and grunts consistently say this about a CEO, but this should work both ways. What busts my balls is that I do practice empathy, say hello and good morning and they still get my name wrong.

9. Thou shalt believe in creative work as long as it is based on strategy.

Do crazy shit but help an AE sell it. The better the strategy and the more it makes sense to a client even if your ad has a goldfish tea bagging an aardvark, the easier they'll buy it and the sooner you can get home to enjoy what normal people call a life.

10. Thou shall have good communication.

It is fucking unbearably pathetic how piss poor we communicate within so many ad agencies. It's a marvel clients still trust us with their money with the shit we pull off on a daily basis. By the way, good communication also includes professionalism, kindness, manners, respect and appreciation. I know it's a little hard to conceive but I know you can do it.

Could there be more rules? Why shit yes, but just imagine a company that does these ten things.


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