Everyone knows the fairy tale of Goldilocks. Girl lost in forest, finds an empty house (because I guess the owners, who are talking bears, are out for a walk). The girl checks out the porridge at the dinner table – one bowl is too hot, another too cold, this is one is juuuust right. Same with the beds, and so on. She always chooses the one that’s the right balance.
Well, more recently, a client of ours in New York used that analogy when it came to his choice of agencies. Along with BBR, he and his colleagues at a global company once chose only large transnationals to help them with their branding and marketing. Then, disenchanted by the lack of transparency and honesty, and being overcharged for “cookie cutter” work, they swung the opposite direction: using small independent shops while doing much of their strategy and creative work internally. This resulted in very uneven work and very stressed out internal marketing teams.
So now, like Goldilocks, they’re building relationships with what they call “larger independents”- those with full capabilities in every department of advertising, but who because of their independence are more agile and, in his own words, “don’t bullshit”.
Our alliance partner agencies, such as Cutwater in San Francisco and Amsterdam Worldwide in Amsterdam, share similar characteristics. Along with being fiercely independent, they have all the capabilities of a conglomerate but without the baggage.
Recently, it was announced that Ancestry.com, the company that leads the relatively new “genealogy” category, chose independent agency Droga5 as its agency of record, without a formal RFP process. They are one of many clients moving emphatically in this direction, and we, of course, are thrilled at this emerging tendency.
Many of us have worked at the big shops, and made very personal decisions to move because of what Daniel Pink identified in his book Drive as the 3 major drivers for creative people:
- Mastery – the opportunity to master new challenges and stretch one’s ability.
- Autonomy – the freedom to solve problems and create without micro-management nor severe restrictions.
- Purpose – having a sense of meaning and purpose behind your work
A good larger independent with a strong value system and talented people can provide all 3 of the above in good measure. And the result is more daring work, more meaningful relationships, and quite frankly, sweeter tasting porridge.