AdLand Suit is Dan Shute, a Board Account Director at Delaney Lund Knox Warren, a top ten London Advertising Agency. This is where I write about the life of a Suit - which can include pretty much anything. Delaney's didn't know I was doing this, but they do now. They still don't agree with everything I say though. They'd also probably rather I swore less.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A Call Of Arms To AdLand's Youth

When thoughts turn to what makes an Agency successful, there are a few ideas that always crop up: great creative work is an obvious one; strong and rigorous strategic thinking, the platform on which great creative work is built; strong leadership across all departments; and, naturally enough, a feisty account management department, to ensure that things actually happen. It goes without saying that the list could go on pretty much indefinitely. (I'd venture, for example, that a big telly with a Sky Sports subscription in the Account Management area is a must.) This post, though, deals with something that I think is too often overlooked.

Gossip. The true lifeblood of an Agency.

It may prove slightly contentious to say it, but I guarantee you that an Agency will produce better work, and will be a better place to work if it's constantly a-buzz with chat about who's shagging whom, which creative was seen leaving which restaurant with which account manager, which TV producer has the biggest drug problem (it's not all about sex) and which guy in traffic came into work with which junior art-buyer (ok, it's mostly about sex).

Case in point. Back at the end of the 90s, the London outpost of a massive global network (for the sake of anonymity, let's just call them Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper) was rumoured to have a rather strict policy on graduate recruitment - it is rumoured (rumoured, mind) that senior management took a very hands-on approach. Now, whilst I can't speak for the veracity of that particular rumour, what was certainly true was that it was, as an Agency, rife with gossip, and that it was (as has been pointed out elsewhere) pretty hot as an agency. Nowadays there's less shagging and less heat. Coincidence?

There are of course exceptions - at Fallon, for example, the Suits are all too knackered from the 16 hour days to sleep with each other, and they still manage to churn out the odd good ad from time to time. (They're obviously not entirely gossip-free - just ask their traffic department about last year's Christmas trip abroad.) But for the most part:

Great agency = exciting place to work = excited people = fabulous gossip generation

All I'm suggesting in this post is that there's no reason why that equation can't work just as well if you read it from right to left as if you read it from left to right.

Of course, there reaches a point where it all becomes a bit seedy - nobody wants to see Creative Directors, MDs or CEOs in their 50s indulging in shenanigans with colleagues half their age. That's all a bit horrible, a bit unnecessary, a bit grubby, and the industry would be a better place if it didn't happen - that's certainly not what I'm advocating.

But there aren't many industries that have quite such a high concentration of young, interesting attractive people, nor are there many industries that offer quite so many opportunities to get drunk, often for free - which is why, I think, a lack of gossip can have such a hugely demotivating effect. Why on earth aren't these people getting drunk and getting off with each other? Us older folk played our parts back in the day - now it's your turn.

Because maybe it's me, but the whole industry feels a little flat at the moment. With Bellwether telling us that we're all screwed (and that we will be for ages), with Tango deciding that making
14 year old boys snigger is more important than producing classic, timeless advertising, and with 15 year old geeks running the world, AdLand needs you more than ever. So if you're young, single and work in advertising, I implore you - go out, get drunk, get whatever, get off with the wrong people, sleep with the right people, and get people talking. Your Agency and the industry within which you work will be a better place for it.


Anonymous said...

Hear, hear!

i will do my best!

shib said...

haha that made me laugh so much! I'm gonna start judging agencies on how hot the staff are. The work can wait. said...

I loved this post and wholeheatedly agree, which is why I've decided to do something about it. The link below takes you to a Facebook account dedicated to gossip sharing, designed to work across industry or within agency. It will be interesting to see how it takes off.

PS It's only new, I'll add more agency groups when I can.

Search Facebook for Adland Trailertalk to join or, use the link below.


AdLand Suit said...

Anything that gets the gossip going gets a thumbs up from me. Everybody get involved.