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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > ask jancy >  Helping to turn a big agency’s rep around

Helping to turn a big agency’s rep around


I’m being offered a CD position at a big shop with a less than stellar creative reputation. However, they’ve made some key hires of top award- winning talent from some of the best agencies in the country. The new ECD is also a heavy hitter, and he’s trying to staff it up with great people. They seem to want to make a change to the culture of the place. If I accept this position, I will be included in this small group of talent leading the charge.
They certainly have their work cut out for them. The place has many accounts with many assignments, but they have yet to show anything great, although they’re trying. Also, it’s not exactly like everyone there cares about change. There are still people in top creative management who don’t share the conviction, as well as many longtime staffers who enjoy leaving at 4 PM and have no interest in great work. On the other hand, I’ve seen big bad agencies become good with new leadership. Saatchi NY, Saatchi LA, even JWT has done some really nice stuff.
I come from some good places and have good work, but frankly, at 40, I’m getting pretty tired of the trenches. I really want to start leading and exploring new skills. My questions are: How do I determine if they’re going to be able to pull this off? What should I look for and what should I ask? Also, how important is it to get into management? I know I’ll need to get there one day. Do people start wondering why I never made CD? Oh yeah the money is pretty good. I’m assuming it was for the other new guys, too.

intro Helping to turn a big agencys rep aroundIt sounds like a great opportunity to us. Plenty of big bad places have been turned around with conviction from the top. With those crucial new hires—especially the ECD, signals are good. The dead wood that’s still there will likely be let go or leave on their own with pressure dialed way up to deliver. (This always takes time). But it’s more than fair to ask the ECD what the vision is, what the new version of the agency looks like a year out. It’s critical that the CEO is on the same page as the ECD—without support from the top for top creative output, things won’t get that far.

Not everyone is cut out for a CD position. You have to try to be honest with yourself that this is something you really want. We didn’t think we wanted it and resisted for a long time. But it worked out. There’s no question you can extend your career in advertising in the big position. If you’re good at it.

The good money comes with a place that needs to pay more to get good people. They seem to think you’re someone who can make a difference. If that excites you, if the ECD talks your language and sounds like he has a good plan for the turnaround, go for it. There’s big payoff if it works out, and if it doesn’t, you can move on after a year of giving it your best shot.

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About Jancy

'Jancy' is Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk, Co-Founders of Swim, a unique “creative leadership training lab for advertising creatives and marketers.” Prior to Swim, Jancy was globally renowned as the Co-Chief Creative Officers of Ogilvy & Mather Toronto, a position they held for thirteen of the twenty years they were a creative duo at the agency. Over the years they've racked up Cannes Lions, Clios, One Show pencils and CA credits, and have lead their shop to two Cannes Lions Grand Prix and a Grand Clio. They've judged CA, Cannes, D&AD, the One Show, the Clios and other prestigious award shows. Creativity named them two of the top 50 creative people of 2008. Known for their outspoken, no-bullshit style and a passion for mentoring juniors, they're ready to give you advice if you're ready to take it.

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