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Agency Profile: Perfect Fools Stockholm

Posted on January 25, 2013 and read 1,704 times

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brettihaismall Agency Profile: Perfect Fools StockholmBrett McKenzie
Content Producer
Art Directors Club

 

The look of advertising agencies — their physical offices at least — can certainly run the gamut. Some resemble the corporate offices of just about every industry imaginable. They’re the ones with cubicles, watercoolers and photocopiers, and the only thing that would immediately clue you in that you were at a creative firm would be that some of the staff are wearing hoodies and skinny jeans. On the other side of the spectrum, there are offices that go out of their way to scream ‘not stuffy corporate!” These are the ones in those exposed brick and timber lofts, with beer kegs, foosball tables and graffiti murals. Somewhere in the middle, you’ll find the ones with banks of LCD screens in the reception area and a dog belonging to someone in upper management sniffing the halls.

Now as different as all of these places sound, they all have one thing in common: they’re all offices. For the most part, agencies are found inside of office buildings. Some might be very cool office buildings, and some might’ve had past lives as candy factories or whatnot, but they all have been converted to fit the mold of an office.

And then there’s Perfect Fools in Stockholm.

“We used to be located in a quiet, classical office space,” reminisces Tony Högqvist, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Perfect Fools. “I find that it really puts you in a box where your mindset is that of an office.” A few years ago, Perfect Fools broke free of that office and relocated to the remains of the Paraden, a classic 1930s cinema located near Karlaplan in the haute Östermalm district. The new digs clearly have the feel of an old movie theatre, with sloped floors, coatrooms, a confections stand and a projection booth overlooking it all — only today that booth doubles as an audio studio. This location also holds a special place in the heart of Swedish IHAVEANIDEA fans; it was the location of the first ever Portfolio Night in Stockholm.

“If you build the right kind of place, it should be an environment where the client feels inspired,” comments Tony about the Perfect Fools office space. “When they come in, in one corner they’ll see somebody working on their animations, and in another corner they’ll see someone putting typography to their pages.”

Animation? Typography? Yes, Perfect Fools has certainly grown from its roots as a digital shop back in 2002. Gone are the days of simply being a place where everyone builds websites all day long. “Things have really evolved here,” says Tony. “On an average day you’ll find us here building an installation or testing out a prototype of some new technology. Yes, we are still putting content onto digital displays, but we’re also now putting together big installations and retail experiences. I guess you could say that we are known for being one of those digital shops who has survived by learning to adapt beyond building websites and things out of Flash.”

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Perfect Fools has approximately 45 people between their Stockholm and Amsterdam locations, although it’s hard to say how many belong to each offices, as there is constant movement between the two places. One thing is certain: if you’re at either office, chances are you’re not a ‘suit’. “We’ve never had a need for a lot of account people,” says Tony. Instead projects are guided by a creative lead and and technical lead, and since every project is different, those leads are rarely the same. In the past, Perfect Fools’ senior management would serve as de facto account staff, but in recent years the shop has relented and brought in a handful of proper account people to manage the clients, freeing up the seniors to do what they do best: make stuff.

Many of the companies on Perfect Fools’ client list are actually other advertising agencies. “That’s always been a part of our heritage,” says Tony, commenting that the shop has a long history of developing technologies for themselves and then presenting them for agencies to use. “Some agencies have been a bit hesitant to work with us, seeing that we also work with regular clients, which in their eyes makes us competitors. But to us, we aren’t a threat. We could never manage the big clients on their rosters. We just want to help out wherever we can when it comes to making use of the latest and greatest tech.”

So how do the folks at Perfect Fools stay motivated? One of the things that Tony likes to do to keep things interesting is to create internal tech challenges for his staff. “We don’t do these often, but we like to challenge our people to come up with new things that could be turned into brilliant new products,” he explains. “Again, we don’t do this all the time, because it’s hard to have the capital to bring these things to life, but it’s a really good exercise for everyone here.” The shop also has the occasional Friday “Fools Schools” where different staff members teach the rest of the team about their own expertise. “This goes a long way towards building multi-disciplined people, which is quite an asset in an agency our size. If you’re a copywriter or a motion graphics designer or whatever, you can’t just be those things and not try out other skill sets. Those kinds of people don’t last long here.”

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On the Fridays when Fools School is not in session, the Perfect Fools gang enjoys cracking open a few beers before heading out on the town. “Somebody at the office started calling them Funny Fridays,” says Tony. “I don’t know where that came from, but it’s a tradition we’ve managed to uphold. One thing we have learned through this process is that people tend to give the most honest opinions of particular projects when they are drunk!”

So what can be seen coming up on the Perfect Fools horizon? “I believe that in the next few years we will be bringing in more people who don’t have advertising backgrounds,” says Tony. “We would love to start to have engineers and other types of skill sets in here.”

Any final words about Perfect Fools for our readers around the world? “I think the bottom line about Perfect Fools is that we make stuff here. Innovation can sometimes sound cliché, but the people who work here actually know how to build the shit they are talking about. If a client deals with us, they are dealing with people who know what they are talking about, and I am proud that we’ve always kept Perfect Fools that way.

Special thanks to Tony for inviting us into Perfect Fools’ awesome office space. An extra special thanks to Getty Images for making this visit to Perfect Fools possible.






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