Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What type of agency do you work at?

Episode 1: The Big Agency

Let’s start at the top. The big time. The show. Clients are huge national and international brands. Budgets are in the stratosphere. Your agency may take up several floors or even the entire building. Human Resources has its own softball team.

It’s hard to know what people actually do at a Big Agency. Every day you run into large groups of people you’ve never seen before, but clearly work there. It’s hard to get noticed at a Big Agency, but maybe that’s the point. It’s an easy place to hide. If you’re smart, you can spend years at a Big Agency doing about four hours of work a week.

Then there are the perks. Holiday parties are grossly-expensive formal affairs. Travel is always first-class. And when you recite your client roster, your ad friends will drool like starving Chihuahuas.

Typical Big Agency Names:
[WHITE GUY NAME]
[WHITE GUY NAME] & Associates
[WHITE GUY NAME]+ [WHITE GUY NAME] Advertising

Typical Clients:
Japanese Automobile Company
Big Oil
Athletic Gear
Soda

Things You Might Hear in the Hallway:
You busy?
I hear we’re getting another piece of [CLIENT NAME].
Where do you think the summer party will be this year?
Can you believe it? We had to share a room at Cannes!

Lunch:
Prime Rib with Baked Potato and Grilled Asparagus. Scotch and Soda.

Corporate Philosophy:
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Career Strategy:
Enjoy the ride.

Uh-oh:
CEO called to testify before Congress.

5 comments:

Witek Koroblewski said...

I think there’s one thing worth adding: big agencies developed some kind of internal caste system based on the account you work for.

There’s the royal class responsible for 80% awards and 10% revenue at the top, the outcast class responsible for 0% awards and 80% revenue and the commoner class responsible for all that’s left. Friendships between lower and upper castes are strictly prohibited but you can be moved from caste to caste, up an down sometimes for no particular reason.

Being in the royal class gives you the privilege of working in your own room and builds better CV. But on the other hand all the lower castes hate you and just wait to stab you in the back to take your place and the creative directors take credit for your work.
Being in one of the lower classes means that nobody remembers your name (sometimes even the guys you share the open space with), the creative directors don't mess with your projects, and eventually nobody notices your absence. It’s the perfect place to hide and enjoy 4-hrs working week just as you wrote in your great post.

Can't wait for the next episode.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Great post, CB. Also, Big White Guy + White Guy Agencies are great places to freelance, especially on outclass accounts koroblewski refers to. Your 2 week gig can last 2 years before anyone notices that you're still pulling a dayrate.

Mark Kenny said...

Athletic gear? You gotta be kidding for big agencies. I work in Amsterdam among W&K and 180 (Nike and adidas global creative agencies), and there's no money for big lunches, we're lucky to get the time for a "kass broodje".

Haven't seen a big money client in years, it's just hard graft, but isn't that the fun?

adhack said...

Excellent additions witek and ad broad.

And Mark, I hope you find that big money account someday and drain them dry with $200 lunches.

Joker said...

The food you eat correlates to the caste you belong to or the client you work on. Great post as usual man.