Oh it’s not what you think! I’m talking about diamonds! Hey I’m sure the guy that gives his fiancée a one-carat diamond engagement ring loves her just as much as the guy who gives his a four-carat diamond. As a matter of “cost” he may actually love her a little more. Is a one-carat stone with no visible inclusions of more value than a four-carat stone with inclusions visible to the naked eye? In a word — absolutely! Bigger doesn’t always mean better.
When choosing an advertising agency, is it better to go with a larger agency, in a glass tower with a roster of accounts that reads like a “Who’s Who” of national brands? Or does a small boutique agency, perhaps with a specialty and a roster of clients that runs the gamut of local to national; dot com to multiple brick and mortar locations, fit your needs? The right answer is that there is no right answer. It’s a matter of choice, for the same reason Crayola packs 64 colors in a box of crayons and Baskin Robbins makes 31 flavors of ice cream. But I can speak from personal experience from both the client and agency side of the desk.
I spent 14 years of my career on the “client side” as a marketing director for a nationally known sports/entertainment arena and as a marketing director for three super-regional (1 million-plus square feet) shopping malls. And for all 14 years my advertising agencies were small boutique agencies.
Did it feel good that every time there was a meeting on my behalf, the president of the agency was in attendance? Did it feel good that every time I walked in, it was like Cheers and everyone knew my name? Hell yes! More importantly however and ego aside, some of the best out of the box thinking that I was ever a part of came at the hands of these small agencies. The reason being, they were not mired in a corporate structure where every idea had to pass an army of creative directors, media planners, media buyers and layers of account people. In small agencies, everyone plays multiple roles and develops a level of expertise in many facets of the agency — creative to media to account service. I firmly believe that when you touch it all, you can’t help but expand the limits of your creativity.
Small agencies also make the client an integral part of the creative process. I was part of every brainstorming session. Since I lived the business day in and day out, my opinion was recognized, acknowledged and requested, not as a courtesy but as a starting point for any planning discussion and throughout the process.
The “agency side” of my career has also been with small boutique agencies, one specializing in the apparel industry and now The Radio Agency, whose name speaks for itself. Both of these agencies actually said my “client side” experience was one of the reasons I was hired. May not seem like a big deal to you, but read the job descriptions posted by big agencies—MUST HAVE AGENCY EXPERIENCE. Great if you were lucky enough to be born in that special hospital where you get your agency experience right in the delivery room, but what about the rest of us?
Again smaller agencies have the flexibility to work outside the corporate structure. Just look at how many small agencies are founded by people who cut their teeth in the glass tower, big agency setting — giving the world the exposed brick, basketball hoop in the conference room, foosball table in the lobby, golden retriever greeting agencies we have come to expect thanks to television. But, more importantly, giving us the creativity that comes with an entrepreneurial mind set that seems to be the cornerstone of every small agency I hired or who hired me.
Monica Caraffa is a Senior Account Manager at The Radio Agency. Please follow The Radio Agency’s Blog “Sounding Board” by subscribing to the email or RSS links above. Visit our website TheRadioAgency.com