June 12, 2009

An abundance of agencies

The recent move takes us on a whole new route into town. It's now just a simple bus ride (except for all the dang traffic! What are you people paying for downtown parking every year?) down a single street and a nice walk to get to the front door of the office. The street is busy and beautiful--filled with old buildings and great architecture and life and people and colour.

And every second door seems to house an agency.

I've seen This Branding, That Design and The Other Communications. I've never heard of these places in my life--not in trade magazines, at awards ceremonies or even from other ad people. These little shops look modern and interesting and fun--and that's just from what I see on the outside.

What do they do? Who works there? Are they sinking or swimming in these odd agency times?

Our agency is a mid-sized, privately owned one--the last of a dying breed, and a great place to work. And people in the industry here just barely recognize our name (although we've been doing very well indeed). What work do these tiny agencies pick up, I wonder... Mom & Pop Stores, maybe. Or bits of packaging. Flyers?

I'm intrigued.

Our industry is fickle and to attend an award ceremony is to think a city has only 2 dang agencies to pick from. But look at all these little fish undertow. They're swimming in the shadows, but their names are still nailed tight to the door.

I wish you well, small shops. I'd love to see your name pop up sometime. Here's hoping the big fish move out of the way once in a while to let the minnows strut their stuff, too.


  1. I picked up a copy of Adbusters for the first time in a few years the other day, because the coverline "Pop Nihilism: Advertising Eats Itself" and the image of a crazed SpongeBob caught my eye. (I never know whether I like that magazine or hate it, but it never fails to provoke.)

    Toward the end, the cover story touches on what you're describing: The dichotomy between traditional/mass market/client-centric agencies and the progressive/chaotic new breed. The writer's conclusion is that the former will die of natural causes and the latter will descend into cannibalism. As someone who works for both types as an indy, I don't know where that leaves me; on the other hand, I've always soothed myself with the Andy Rooney crack that "We've been going to Hell in a handbasket for so long, I'm surprised we're not there yet."

    Worth reading in its entirety, but I can't seem to create a link: http://adbusters.org

  2. My Canadian city is a University town with new MBA's going straight to the tradional global agencies, and a college that spews out heaps of designers. The established local shops only have 10-40 staff range and fight over the local banquet, meanwhile hundreds of these design grads offering web pages for $25.

    I want to enter (re-enter) the advertising industry locally, but am challenged on where to fit in. A street full of boutique agencies and design houses sounds sexy, even if short lived. I romanticize about starting the next Mother of a shop full of engaging and relevant work, but I am sure thats what they are all thinking while cranking out the $25 web pages.

    And Teenie, love your writing style here. It's concise, playful and earthy...nice mix. Hope you still have the energy when your on leave.

  3. Jake: Thanks! I'll get to reading that. It's a subject I need enlightening on!

    jeaves: I think advertising is one of those industries where talent--or pure potential--trump degrees every time. Don't give up, jeaves!

    And shucks--thanks for the compliment! I hope to keep blogging on my year off, but you may be reading about diaper dilemmas a lot more than advertising ones...

  4. Hey, I hear there's a lot of E-Z money in mommy blogging!!!11!!

    /six-figure sarcasm

    And I'll echo jeaves's sentiments about your style :)

  5. Cheers, Jake! I love reading your writing, too.