Today’s MPA Blog Share comes from Jo Whiteley of the if agency.
Jo’s enjoyed (& endured!) many years in the creative industry, starting out as an art director & working her way to CD. Fiercely competitive, Jo hops out of bed come rain or shine, with the same ambition & passion for concepts and innovation as she did on day one. With her infectious enthusiasm, she thrives on nurturing ideas & creative talent.
Grab a brew and enjoy a read of Jo’s blog below and if you would like to share your view, recent experience or point of view, get in touch!
“Most of us can agree that great ideas, killer copy lines, exciting executions can come from anyone. We know this, and yet so many agencies are still putting their creatives in boxes, confining them to their singular specialism, stopping them from deviating from their straight and narrow lanes. Artworkers are trapped by technicalities, and countless amends, copywriters chastised for commenting on design, and design demonised for daring to tweak the headline. And that’s only if they’re brave enough to speak up for fear of being shooed back into their box.
The traditional creative structure in agencies is in fact so rigid, that it supresses the exact thing it exists to do: inspire and achieve the best creative. Having worked in this way for many years myself, it often felt like we were all part of a production line. I’m not saying it didn’t work, we met deadlines & we created some pretty powerful campaigns. BUT, time & time again I listened to the same ‘complaints’ – Art directors wanted to see the job through, Artworkers wanted to be more involved in the creative process etc
Nothing changes if nothing changes
So after many years of trying to work more flexibly, and not really resolving the issue. I reimagined the way the creative team structure, doing away with specific titles that pigeon hole people into a role, and instead, repositioning each member of the team as a Creative. Afterall, that is the true essence of what they are here to be.
Now don’t get me wrong. I still respect the different specialisms that my team have trained in, gained invaluable experience in and worked their way up in. That all still stands. And It’s not about saving money & recruiting unicorns, it’s about removing any barriers stopping them from going beyond their “traditional role” and about creating a culture where everyone has the confidence to be more, do more, learn more and ultimately achieve better work.
A culture of creativity
It’s simply bringing together a room full of creative people who have the freedom to explore all directions of creativity. And it has loads of benefits. For example, it creates a culture of shared insight & responsibility, gives everyone the opportunity to get involved, make suggestions & offer support. More-over, it’s about raising the bar – collectively & individually, pushing ourselves to make every brief an opportunity to shine. At the end of the day, clients come to us for the BEST creative response, we’re doing everything in our power to create an environment that stimulates that.
A Creative Collective
In reality, it was a huge risk to deviate from the ‘extensively’ tested structure, but I can confidently say we’ve pulled it off!
New talent has joined because of the agency’s progressive vision and unique structure, existing creatives are excited and motivated because they feel more involved, appreciated and encouraged to develop. There are no egos, everyone’s happy in their roles and enjoying their ‘freedom’, it’s helped us get to know each other really well, identify each other’s strengths, and collaborate so much more effectively.
Many creatives cite boredom as the reason for leaving – Not here 🤞”