Come, join the client side

Want a more satisfying career in advertising, where you can really make a difference? You need to move in-house

The ad industry is in the throes of a brain-drain. Big agencies are haemorrhaging creative directors left, right and centre. They’re not leaving to write novels, become Buddhist monks, open organic cupcake outlets or any of the ‘other projects’ traditionally favoured by recovering ad folks. No, these guys are going to work for clients.

The advantages from a client’s point of view are easy to see. Why pay an agency to pay a top-flight creative, if you can hire him or her directly and use the money you save to buy, say, a small island in the Caribbean? If your business is online you probably already have a load of developers, coders and designers in the building. Add a CD et voila, you have everything an agency has, minus all those drug-addled TV producers. It’s a no-brainer, in fact the main reason that more clients haven’t pursued this strategy, up until now, is that it used to be impossible to persuade anyone good to go client-side. Suits, obviously, don’t count.

It was partly that the work was so bad. For decades ‘in-house’ was synonymous with ‘really crap’, as in: ‘did you see that layout, it looked sort of in-house?’ Sadly it isn’t a standard many creatives aspire to. Plus, there’s the boredom. Why would anyone commit themselves to a monogamous relationship with a single client when an agency offers the thrill of continuous promiscuity? The chance to mess up a new brief every other week.

But times change. One of the inadvertent consequences of the web has been that agencies have come close to making things that consumers can actually use. Even if it’s only an iPhone app that allows you to tickle a tramp, it offers a level of engagement, a sort of dialogue, that makes a TV ad look as useful as blowing an air-horn in someone’s ear. This sense of usefulness is intoxicating. If you go to work for Google, or the government, there’s the possibility that you might make something people really want. Your air-horn blowing skills may even have a practical application. OK, you won’t work in an office with a fussball table but just imagine contributing something, something worthwhile, it’s oh, God I’m going to cry.

And perhaps it would make life easier. If clients are bastards, why not drastically reduce the number of bastards you have to deal with? It could be the perfect solution to all the modern creative’s problems. They get to write the headline, choose the photography, and supervise the edit. In fact, if you’re interested in making good advertising, you’ll probably have more power to do so as a client than as a CD. This is our chance to turn the tables. They’ve been trying to do our jobs for so long, isn’t it time we went after theirs?

‘Gordon Comstock’ tweets at @notvoodoo

More from CR

Pretty ugly

In 2007, CR’s Patrick Burgoyne wrote a piece for the magazine headlined The New Ugly. In it he suggested the emergence of a new wave of graphic design that knowingly broke the rules in an attempt to seize the attention of jaded audiences and respond to young readers. This month sees the publication of a new book, Pretty Ugly, that documents the work of a group of designers who share many of the attributes and aspirations noted in CR’s original piece. Patrick Burgoyne talks to the book’s editors, Martin Lorenz and Lupi Asensio of TwoPoints.Net, about where this movement has
come from and what its legacy may be…

Nice publications

Time for one of our regular round ups of lovely printed publications. Included is the new issue of Centrefold magazine, the latest hardback graphic novel from Nobrow, an illustrated diary by Jon Burgerman and an unusual mailer by Crispin Finn…

Vimeo Award Winners 2012

The 2012 Vimeo Awards ceremony was held last night in New York, with 13 winning films announced, chosen from over 14,000 entries. The winner of the Grand Prize was Symmetry, a sweet film directed by Everynone, which looks at moments of harmony in life, from the predictable to the unexpected.

Bike-themed limited edition print exhibition

Two creatives at Fallon, Pete Lewis and Omar Karim, have joined forces with Wesley Merritt at Debut Art to launch A Family Affair, a charity project to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. The trio will be cycling from John O’Groats to Land’s End in June, and have also commissioned a number of artists and illustrators to create bike-themed limited edition prints to help raise money…

Speciality-Drinks_logo

Middleweight Designer

Speciality Drinks
Europackaging_logo

Creative Designer

Euro Packaging
Silver-Lining_logo

Project Managers

Silverlining Furniture Limited