July 8, 2014
How did they fare?
Last July, I posted a column on seven creative agencies on the rise: LINK. Due to the post’s popularity (it went ridiculously viral), I thought I’d circle back a year later and report on their progress.
Baldwin& Raleigh, NC – Five years down the agency road and this one has really hit its stride. They launched Cree LED lighting‘s new light bulb last year, and coincidentally the Cree stock doubled in the first month. And new work just launched a few weeks ago: roomofenlightenment.com. They won the prestigious O’Toole Award for small agency of the year. They doubled in size every year for their first five years. So as a result, they moved into bad ass new space which is their third space in five years. And recently, they were featured in a Communication Arts agency profile. But, mikepalma.com scooped them one year ago.
Barton F. Graf 9000 New York, NY – The 4A’s named BFG9000 it’s “Mid-size Agency of the Year” after this white-hot shop doubled its office space. The tallies are coming in from Cannes as I write this but rumor has it that Gerry Graf had a tough time clearing security at the Nice airport due to all the hardware in his carry on. Great new work for new clients 350 Action, Axe, Supercell. Great work for old client Little Caesars. The hype from Fast & C0 makes one think they’ve gone from underrated to overrated in the past year. But, the work dispels that notion. It’s a short walk from the outhouse to the Penthouse. This may be the hottest creative shop in the world. But, we knew that last year…
Silver & Partners New York, NY – This agency should rename itself “Funny or Die” based on the CarMax work (including the 2014 Super Bowl spot). But, the brilliant and somber Social campaign for the NYC Rescue Mission shows Another Side of Eric Silver. Here’s the idea: http://silverpartners.com/project/make-them-visible/. No big hype here, just an agency on a mission. I look to them breaking through a la BFG9000 this year.
BRIGHT RED\TBWA Tallahassee, FL – If you drive southbound on I-75 from Atlanta and go back 20 years, you’ll eventually find Tallahassee. And then once you get to this agency, it’s suddenly the year 2024. They do things differently, particularly in Digital & Social. Led by their development of data analytics and digital tools to match the ability to generate award-winning content, this agency shows Omnicom the way. Data is just data without the people and intelligence to utilize the information. They have added staff to support Bright Red Insights, a measurement and analytics suite. To keep up with the growth (and the speed of need) of video content, they also built in-house editing capabilities. In the past year, they’ve begun new relationships with Wounded Warrior Project and YOO Hotels in London and Krystal. As far as I know, no industry publication has discovered them yet. That will change.
22squared Atlanta, GA & Tampa, FL — 22who? This agency completely reinvented itself a few years ago and the returns are astonishing. Their business has grown so much in the past year, adding PGA Superstore, OGX Shampoos and Home Depot that HR can barely keep up with hiring new staffers. This growth, coupled with brilliant new work for Baskin-Robbins, Buffalo Wild Wings and American Standard has them on the top of their game — everyone knows them for their Publix Americana-styled work, but this is a new regime and an exciting new portfolio. They recruited two creative superstars to the Tampa office. Maybe, after Wieden & Kennedy, the best independent creative agency in America. They are one big brand win away from becoming a creative household word.
The Fantastical Boston, MA – Practically a startup one year ago, founders Mike Ancevic and Steve Mietelski had the most to prove and boy did they deliver on their promise. They now do the National TV for Sam Adams and built them a new Declare your independence brand platform. They won the global ’47 Brand campaign and are doing all of their social media as well. They launched the Let Your You Out brand platform and campaigns for MLB and NFL. They launched the global Row NYC hotel campaign featuring Lizzy Jagger with global print and Times Square takeover billboards.They also picked up the Olympus North American business and launched the award-winning OM-D camera series this year. They won a Jay Chiat Award for their J Jill “Uncomplicate” campaign. Recently, they were featured in Creativity Magazine…but mikepalma.com scooped them one year ago…yawn.
Neiman Group Philadelphia, PA – Neiman Group was acquired by Boston-based Allen & Gerritsen last year. So they must have been doing something right…
June 3, 2014
America’s got talent…but, can you hang on to it?
Doesn’t it seem that our world has become one big talent show? Turn on the TV (painful, I know)…The Voice, Dancing With the Stars, American Idol, X Factor, You’re a Star, The Glee Project, America’s Got Talent are just a handful of wannabe-a-celebrity talent shows. Or just log on to Facebook for daily videos of kids and cats performing stupid tricks. We can’t escape the exhibitionist mentality so pervasive in today’s society. In a winner-take-all world, everybody seems to want their fifteen minutes of fame.
The creative advertising industry has its own version of talent shows…we call them Awards Shows. Cannes Lions, One Show Pencils, Effies and Addys have replaced the erstwhile Clios that crashed due to its inherent overindulgence of egomania. But, our industry has never been exempt from “Hey look at me, I’m a star” syndrome. This is not a criticism but a commentary. My core business is delivering talent. Like the pizza man, I am part of the food chain, a ghost in this machine and my comments reflect 25 dreadful years of experience. Every time I try to get out, they keep pulling me back in.
Creative agencies are purely the sum total of their collective talent base. Without talent, there is no point of differentiation. Without talent, there is no value proposition; just boring processes. It’s funny how clients and search consultants insist on a certain critical mass of total employees yet they only want to pay for a few. But, that’s another post. This one is about keeping the talent you have recruited intact. Recognizing top talent is relatively easy. Identifying top talent is too. Recruiting the talent is tricky, but do-able. Delivering talent? Tough. Maximizing top talent? Very difficult. Retaining it — the toughest challenge of all. And if you lose it, it’s wasted on YOU.
So how do you do it? Nobody asked me, but here are a few tips:
- Program the hire for success from the start. Most unsuccessful hires can be traced to the early days of the employee’s tenure. Do you have an onboarding process? An agency orientation? A mentor program? Everybody needs a mentor. Have you prepared your current employees for an impact hire? It amazes me when an agency hires top talent and the candidate shows up unannounced for their first day of work. Or worse, when they have to supervise folks that have no idea who they are. Too often, an introductory email is sent out weeks following the hire and there is little definition of the candidate’s role.
- The 100 day review. When things break down, they break down fast. It’s critical to conduct reviews early and often. Simple questions like, “how does the actual job compare to the job description?” And, “are you more excited or less excited about the opportunity than when you accepted the offer?” At 200 days, the questions become more personal and specific, “are you challenged?” “Are you still having fun?”
- Everybody has an opinion. On operational issues, on creative issues, on cultural issues, on social issues. When I ask an employed job seeker why they are looking to move, too often they say, “nobody cares about my opinion, I’m just a hired gun.” Or worse, if they’re asked for their opinion — it isn’t valued and they feel ignored. Seek opinions from top talent…constantly.
- Decisions, Decisions. Nothing pisses off top talent more than evasive partners and colleagues that make passive-aggressive decisions. Or worse, are completely indecisive. Tomorrow never comes for them. They feel they are wasting their talent trying to catch jellyfish. Be decisive in defining roles. Dictatorship is okay as long as it’s fair and benevolent.
- Promises, Promises. In my experience, and that’s more than 1,000 hires; it breaks down far more often on the agency side than the candidate side. It hurts me to say this, because the agencies are my client (they pay everyone); but it never helps long-term to “sell” a candidate on an opportunity. If anything, under promise and over-deliver. There’s nothing worse than investing in top talent, introducing them to a key client and losing them because the reality of the opportunity differs from the perception.
May 6, 2014
Take the test…how do you fit in the creative agency business?
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Boston, MA $150k Are you a Frank Lloyd Wright fan? We’re looking for a creative architect.
ACD COPYWRITER Milwaukee, WI $125k+ One Show shop seeks great writer ready for prime time. Are you prime, USDA or grass-fed?
ACD COPYWRITER Charlotte, NC $120k Great creative shop seeks great writer to work on all cool/fun accounts. Do you have real game? or are you gamy?
VP, DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL/SOCIAL Atlanta, GA up to $125k Red hot mid-sized agency seeks Social Media maven that can lead team and clients. Can you walk the social walk? If not, can you walk the plank?
ACCOUNT SUPERVISOR Atlanta, GA up to $85k Emerging digital/mobile firm seeks buttoned-up Account Supervisor with agency experience. Can you spell “digital?” If yes, can you fog a mirror?
ACD COPYWRITER Washington, DC $100k Smart shop with national clients seeks revolutionary creative mind and leadership skills. Who was Abbie Hoffman? What did he write?
COPYWRITER/ART DIRECTOR TEAM Atlanta, GA $75k Strong shop with Cannes-winning ECD seeks emerging stars. How do you pronounce “Cannes?”
DIGITAL MEDIA SUPERVISOR Birmingham, AL $90k Birmingham’s biggest agency searching for a media monster. Are you a media player or pretender?
Congratulations…you are almost hot! You will be really hot if you share this…
April 17, 2014
by Miles Jennings Founder/CEO Recruiter.com
“I was talking to a friend of mine at a party that will soon be looking for a job. He pretty much knows where he wants to work already, as it’s a small industry and market. He also already has an “inside connection” at the company – a relative of his works there and can help him out with introductions to key team members.
However, the company where he wants to work is a big place, with lots of different teams and hiring managers. He asked me an interesting question – should he use an external agency recruiter to help him get a job with the company, even though he already has a good networking connection?
My answer was yes – use a recruiter as well – if you’re trying to get into a big company, you need to do everything you can. As long as you tell the recruiter what you’re doing and that you may already be represented for some jobs at the company, there isn’t any problem with trust or communication. The issue is that with hundreds of open jobs and tons of complex projects, any one particular networking connection, job application, or introduction isn’t enough. One department inside a large company won’t know what another department is doing or who they are interviewing. So you have to hedge your bets and go deep (as long as you tell everyone involved what you’re doing.)
We talked more about when you should use an agency recruiter and how you know when it’s valuable. The answer is pretty clear: when you already have a connection to a particular company, you are looking for added value in a recruiter. You are looking for a recruiter that can do more for you than submit your resume into a database, talk to you about the open jobs on the company’s website, or even introduce you to one person at the company. You are looking for indications that a recruiter has real influence over and knowledge about a particular company. This influence and knowledge is the mark of a great recruiter. So what will this great recruiter sound like?
Here are 5 signs that you’ve found a great recruiter that can really add value to your job search, even if you already know the company or know about the jobs online.
Past success: You want to work with a recruiter that has successfully placed candidates at that company in the past. Look for the recruiter to reference their past placements. Ideally, these past placements have become valuable networking contacts for the recruiter. The right recruiter to work with is the one with a solid history of success at the companies that best fit your skills in your local area.
Company knowledge: What does the recruiter know that you don’t know? Recruiters should have a detailed knowledge of the company that goes well beyond what can be found on the web. They should be able to tell you about the company culture and examples of previous hires at the company, or problems with certain managers, etc… Look for fluid discussion about the inner workings of the organization.
Project information: Good recruiters know jobs, great recruiters know projects and initiatives (the why versus just the how.) You don’t want to just know that there is a new Accountant job opening at ABC company, you want to know why that Accountant job is open and how it fits with the company’s efforts and business initiatives. A great recruiter will offer you multiple touch-points inside a company and tell you information that can’t be gleaned from the job description. By working with a great recruiter, you’ll walk into the interview with a leg-up on every other applicant.
Technical understanding: Job description are often, if not usually, filled with stock language. Positions often list every system that the company has, for example. A recruiter worth working with will tell you what the position really entails – what the hiring manager really is hurting for. Oftentimes, positions will be replacements – what was good about that last employee? What was bad? A great recruiter will have a comprehensive understanding of all the job requirements, but more importantly have a nuanced understanding of the key talent differentiators. They’ll know what the company reallywants and if they have a really great relationship, they’ll even be able to tell the company what theyshould want.
Personal connections: Your recruiter doesn’t have to be personal friends with everyone that hires from them, but there is no substitute for solid, in-person networking skills. Your recruiter should have actually visited the companies at which they hope to represent you. A great recruiter will talk to you about the soft-skills of the job and how you might fit in with the various teams and managers for whom you might work. Examine the depth of the recruiter’s relationships and not just the number of their employment connections.
A great recruiter can make all the difference to your job search. They can offer you valuable information, detail the nuances of jobs, and help you navigate through the entire hiring process. If you’re a jobseeker like my friend, it’s important to know when you’ve found a recruiter that can really help. When you do find those great recruiters, be sure to stay in touch with them, even after you’ve found the job you want – those connections can be invaluable to your career.”