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Why go back to the agency? After almost three years on the supply-side, going from strength to strength in my career in a well-established tech company, what, people ask, attracted me back to agency life. The hard life.
The grinding, whirling, chaotic life of client services and unending pitches, the roller-coaster of shocking defeats and elated victories. The answer, as crazy as it may sound to some, is work ethic, graft, and hustle.
I’ve worked in agencies, consultancies and technology companies. I’ve seen inside independents and groups, local outfits and global conglomerates. Agencies have been my clients, my partners and my service providers. I know them, I understand what drives them, and I know why they’ll succeed despite coming in for what seems to me like constant criticism ever since I joined the industry eight years ago.
Hustle. It’s a State of Mind
I’m not going talk about the agency model, or talk about transparency, margins, or operating structures. It’s not like those things aren’t important, but they’ve been covered ad nauseam, and those things aren’t what attracted me back to agency life. I didn’t weigh up SAAS models vs. Consultancy fees vs. % Media Spend. I weighed up attitude, and asked myself where I would be motivated most to improve, to drive forward, and to adapt. What interested me was the oft overlooked importance of the people, and specifically the conscientious, industrious, and tenacious nature of the people working within agencies.
Character is forged under pressure, under weight and heat, at the edge of our ability and the outer ridges of our comfort zones. Character is forged during long hours, its forged in moments of hopelessness, and in moments of victory and defeat, and the character of the people working in the agencies, when it comes to their ability to work hard, stretch themselves and “get after it” is, in my view, beyond contestation.
Fear the Consultancy?
Accenture Interactive entered the media buying business today with the launch of their programmatic arm. I spoke to a half-dozen people today and was shocked by their reaction. From their perspective, this was the first toll of the death knell marking the impending fall of the agency. A management consultancy moving slowly but surely into the agencies realm, attacking their client base, driving margins further down.
Now I’m not going to dismiss it, I’m not going to play it down. Accenture Interactive’s entrance into the market should concern the agencies, they’re a new competitor, and every competitor should be taken seriously. But I see it slightly differently to some. For me this is just another opportunity for the agencies to sharpen their blades, get back to work and start hustling harder than before. Because it’s the day to day grind where the magic really happens. It’s the late nights and weekends. It’s the early mornings. It’s having 10 meetings in 6 hours. That’s where the work gets done, and that’s what differentiates.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying other people in other businesses don’t work hard. They do. But agencies are in a league of their own. Whether you like that lifestyle is debatable, whether it has its downsides, undeniable. But what isn’t deniable is that the collective conscience of an agency towards moving the chains, rolling with the punches, and grinding it out, is second to none.
And if I’m picking a partner in life and in business that’s the kind of partner I want by my side. A partner that will put in the hours, that will be laying it on the line with me, and a partner that has that mentality so well engrained into its spirit it may as well be burnt in.
So, if you work in an agency, be proud of it. If you’re tired, you should be. If you’re beat down, get up and get after it…. and if you’re motivated and want to hustle, get in touch, I have a role for you.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Omnicom Media Group or any of its subsidiary entities
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