Why consultancies are snatching creative talents

The hunt for creative talents has become a global issue. As the needs exceed the abilities of their engineers and marketing eggheads, from the junior level on up to the C suite, tech and marketing firms are luring agency employees with bigger paydays. Of course, the cultural perks and employee benefits in tech-dom and big consultancies are miles and miles ahead of the ad industry. More often than not, agencies can’t compete, especially when it comes to entry-level positions. Currently, even startups are beginning to successfully recruit creative talents by offering them equity and stock options—something that’s virtually unheard of in the agency world where there aren’t shares to offer to valued employees. Rodd Chant, an Independent Creative Director, coach, mentor, consultant and writer offers nuggets for agencies, while industry practitioners commented on them.

“These are trying times for agencies with competition coming at them from all angles such as consultancies and client’s starting in-house creative departments. Creative talents are going to the tech world and the consultancies; some are starting their own agencies, while others have simply walked away from the industry,” Chant observed.

So, what could agencies do to reclaim their place as the first choice for the best creative talent, win back their creative crown, and show clients they are the place to come for creative thinking? Here are some thoughts:  Have the right creative Leader; Have a creative leader in position of power; Champion the creative work; No sweatshop mentalities; Encourage and support personal projects; Help staff grow; Make it fun; Think like the real competition; Less meetings and more making; Work with clients not for clients; Be in a creative location; Create alternative revenue channels.


Regarding creative staff retention; agencies need to invest in more creative endeavours. This may well mean doing internal-only, self-motivated and alas, unpaid work. In these times of clients accepting safe work this is a must. What a difference it will have on your creative team’s spirits.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you’re only ever aiming for winning Awards then you’ll keep your creative team happy, but not the lights on. So, the trick is to find a healthy balance between keeping creatives’ itches scratched and keeping the income flowing is key.

The question is if agencies are still needed, what a client needs is great, creative work – without the overhead of non-creatives. If he’s a filmmaker and writer he can still get specialists for headlines and another specialist for distribution and media buys – all independent and working on a project basis. As individual companies – paid better and still saving clients a lot of money by more creative output due to less rigid structures. In some creative realms it is already standard that the best talent stays independent. This keeps creativity on the highest level, and also is financially more reasonable than employment.

The unfortunate truth is that if the internal politics are really bad (lots of in-fighting, sabotaging, people backstabbing and gossiping about others) then all of those things are just a pretty facade on a mountain of garbage. How can agencies change the mess of internal politics? Other than that, they should absolutely use this guide for building cultures that people want to work within.

No creativity involved in the ads anymore. I love creative clips and images in advertisements when I see them on social media platforms.
Why should agencies be the ‘1st’ choice for creative talent? The world has changed – an agency is just a collection of people and generally not that many of them actually ‘do’ the creative work. Embrace the change – switched on clients know that looking behind the traditional agency model is where value and real creativity will be found.

Service clients better is one way to get back brands.

I need clients to realise that creativity takes time. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, so I can only give you what you pushed for…nothing better.

Let fresh, hungry, NEW talent through the door, I’m seeking employment and full of ideas and very hungry for work.

How about adapting to fit the client’s? Offer temporary creative staffing for those clients starting in-house departments. Offer consulting services – these are often more lucrative than creative services. Competition is going to be tough so don’t focus on “the agency” — focus on “the client”.

Agencies have simply brought this upon themselves. They hire the cheap and inexperienced, give promotions instead of increasing salaries, so you end up having a creative staff with limited knowledge and experience. But they can produce mediocre ideas on 30 different platforms. As legacy agencies continue this practice, and bean counters do the creative hiring, the creative spiral will continue downwards. There should be as much investment and commitment to the culture of a business as there is to its environment.

WORK WITH CLIENTS, NOT FOR CLIENTS – This is a very important distinction.

This needs to be shouted from the rooftops with a megaphone. Fixing these problems is a matter of survival for agencies as clients are spoiled for choice.

This forces creatives to understand the commercial impact of their decisions/output, which is a very useful asset.

Maybe it’s time for me to put an end to my years as a Consultant and build an Agency based on these Commandments.
Agencies should adapt their business model because currently many of them rely on overworking people and being understaffed to compensate for client’s shrinking budgets in order to make a profit.

This fear and threat is real.Solution is that Creative agencies should reinvent, innovate or commit class suicide – God forbid!

If there is not a creative sitting at the decision making table in agency leadership then you will inevitably have issues. There can be no ‘us and them’, it needs to be a team effort from the top down. An agency without creative leadership is just an accounting firm with more people wearing black.

Agency management needs to get behind bigger and better thinking, get excited about it, believe in it, go to fight for it and get their clients excited about it too. Far too many simply pay lip service to the idea of pushing creative work and that smoke and mirrors show gets debunked pretty fast and creative people leave, so do clients that were drawn in by that lip service.

There are no points gained for long hours at an agency burning the midnight oil, it is soul destroying for all involved, it doesn’t produce better ideas and it kills creative spirit. Experienced creative leadership stops this from happening as a true creative leader knows how to make decisions on time and stick to them. All work and no play makes a dull creativity.

Creative people do more than what they do within the confines of an agency, find out what it is (at the interview stage) and get behind it. Show that you believe in them beyond the work you’re paying them to do, this is what an agency that truly believe in creativity would do.

Help staff grow and develop their careers with both internal and external education. Sure, they may leave your agency at some stage, but the more skills and talents they develop while they are there the better the environment and the work will be.

Having a free bagel Monday or a funshirt Friday is not fun. If you truly want a creative agency then get creative and think of how to make your environment and day to day more interesting, enjoyable and different.

Think like the real competition; I’m not talking about other agencies here. Introduce some innovation in house, develop ideas in the same mindset that the tech would do. As Picasso said ‘great artists steal’, so steal from the likes of Google, Instagram and Facebook. It’s not 1960 and it’s not the mad men Era, catch up. Think about this, there is not one person from advertising in Fast company’s most creative people in business 2019 list.

Less meetings, more making; We lose so much time in meetings in this business, many of them are a waste of time, and some could have been resolved through an email. Imagine if we dedicated more time to actually creating stuff.

Work with clients, not for clients; Working as partners with clients is much better than working in servitude. Don’t just be a line item on a clients spreadsheet, be a valuable and inclusive business partner. Start a culture of bringing big ideas and thinking to the clients table, even if they haven’t asked for it. Be proactive not reactive.

Create alternative revenue channels; Develop your own products or brands. This is where that ‘innovation mentality’ also comes into play. Start a soothing line like the agency Acne did, or maybe apps like creative studio Ustwo do. I can imagine creative talent being excited about the chance to work on something that has internal ownership and thus some more creative freedom.

Don’t run a prison; Let people think from wherever they find inspiration, encourage, actually do not encourage instead enforce ‘get the hell out of the office’ mentality. The best ideas don’t come from sitting in an open plan sterile environment under mortuary grade lightning. Set them free.


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