An advertising manifesto (not like those shitty ones that are basically three quarters of all ads these days): part 3

OK, so the set up bullshit is over. Today I actually explain how the hell to start your world-shifting movement (how exciting!).

The first thing you have to do is make a list of all the things you do and don’t want your ideal agency/non-agency company to be. The main thing here is to think big. You’re not going to do this many times, so wish for the very best version of every single thing you might like to have.

For example, you might want:

Everyone to have their own office.

No clients that do shitty things to the planet.

No decks.

Millions of decks (please don’t do this).

Only hungry juniors.

Only superstars.

Premises in Florence.

No creative pitches.

Agency cocktail bar.

Pet horses allowed.

Globally outsourced freelance talent so you can be based in your house (in Florence).

Immediate payments for vendors.

Only one solution offered to clients.

All employees part-own the company.

Not an agency at all. Something no one’s even thought of yet (this is the kind of thinking we need).

Everyone earns the same amount.

Formal Fridays.

Frivolous Fridays.

Fuck Frogs Fridays.

Unanimous employee agreement essential on all new accounts.

In-house media.

Massive fees.

Office closes at 5pm Friday and is 100% closed until 9am Monday.

Jean-Claude Van Damme movies play constantly in reception.

Women only.


Next, you have to work out how to do that.

For example: if you want massive fees, do you do that by hiring the best talent in the world? Offering twenty routes per brief? Changing the billing process to be project only, not by hourly timesheets? Hiring the new business department of W&K Portland?

If you want to be women-only, how do you find the best female practitioners of creativity, strategy, account management etc.? How do you enroll them in your project? How do you structure that agency for future success?

Do you need a local council permit to serve alcohol on the premises for your cocktail bar?

Are there enough great Italian creatives available, or will you have to import people to Florence? What visas will they need? How much is Duolingo Italian Premium?


That’s really all it comes down to: give yourself a series of goals, work out how to achieve them, then knock them off, one by one.

Is it that easy? Yes. It’s also that difficult. You might get it right first go, or eighth go. It might cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. It might be impossible before 2025.

But that’s how this shit happens: vision, followed by actions that bring that vision to life.

(By the way, I have no idea what might get in the way, but I do know one thing that seems to crop up in every new agency (so get ready for it): potential clients will only be interested in the work you have done for your current agency/entity. Listen to Dave Dye’s podcast interview with Garry Goldsmith. Both Dave and Garry went through this odd situation, whereby they showed a ton of great work from their previous agencies, only to be asked what they had done in their current agency – yes, the one that was two weeks old.

As the starter of an agency, I can attest to this, but fortunately there are solutions: you can get some smaller, more guerrilla clients that are easier to come by, and show your mad skillz on those briefs; you might start with a friendly client who has already been impressed by your previous work, which is why they followed you to your new place; you might be really good at persuading people that you’re really good, even though you only have the evidence of having been really good for several preceding years.)

You might be reading this as a relative newbie who doesn’t have this problem because you haven’t really made made many ads. If so, good luck! You. Will. Fucking. Need. It.

So you’ve worked out what you want. We don’t know what might get in the way of that, although some things will probably be obvious. So what else is required?

Well, I have no idea what I’m going to write for part 4, but come back tomorrow and see what I manage to fish out of the bin conjure up from my intimidating combination of intelligence and experience.

Actually, I have an interesting example of a new and different ‘ideal’ entity that I started last year with my wife. I’ll explain all tomorrow…