Fewer Layers Means Better Creative.
Don’t get me wrong; there are benefits to layers. Living in Chicago, layers of clothing help prevent hypothermia during our frigid winters, and help us somewhat prepare for the 50-degree daily temperature swings of our volatile springs. Layers are a good thing in almost every type of dessert; and in some rural areas, a great haircut is measured by the number and quality of layers. But in advertising, layers do nothing but inhibit what should be a very instinctual and organic process and kill great ideas with endless second, third and fourth guessing. So why do some agencies continue to burden clients with needless staffing and procedural layers? Simple. Because that’s how it’s always been done. Downtown Partners was founded – and continues to this day – as proof that the old way isn’t the only way. Not only is it counterintuitive to creating great work, it’s a waste of the clients’ dollars. We staff with more experienced people to avoid on-the-job training at a cost to our clients. But most importantly, if we are going to create great work at the breakneck pace today’s media demands, we need everyone to be able to quickly digest the clients’ problems and get to the best solutions – media, creative, whatever’s needed, as fast as possible.
For example, in the traditional agency structure, a client briefs the agency’s account team. The account team takes a day or three to write up a brief; maybe another day or so getting client approval, then gathers the creative teams to discuss. Now we’re nearing a week into the process with zero ideas generated, besides the mindless doodling of the art directors during the briefing.
At Downtown Partners, we like to have senior level creatives in the initial briefing. So while the account team secures an official brief in the days following, we’re already off and running – the brief just confirms what we already knew. Not only does that allow us to get back to the client more quickly with ideas, but having a creative in the meeting adds a much-needed viewpoint when translating the client’s issues to the agency creative teams. And internally, it breaks down the stereotypical account vs. creative mindset. When both sides hear it directly from the client, both sides share the reality and responsibility of the task at hand; there’s no internal blame game if an idea falls flat.
That’s just one example of why we believe leaner is smarter – and better. But the true test is how our clients view us. And we’re happy to say; they prefer their agency lean, too.