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February 10, 2009


As a yoof, I take the view that if I've been allowed on board a company then they've considered the fact that I may well consider what could be done differently or better, and would like to say so. Not to say anything would in fact be a dereliction of duty.

This is, you might reasonably argue, a well-spun piece of post-rationalisation, but it's the best I can do since I don't know how a senior person thinks. My answer would be that if an agency is truly the hotbed of innovation and thought it claims to be, it shouldn't be afraid of the junior view. It should certainly be confident enough in its method to have it challenged, and flexible enough to make changes.

I guess in the final analysis, all I can say that if I push and get pushed back, at least all the viewpoints have been aired and we can all keep our consciences intact.

Reading between the lines I would say Julian Kynaston's agency wants to cut the wages bill and a first step to do this is to abolish the promotion structure so no-one can say "I've reached Account Manager level therefore I'm due a pay increase". If everyone is a project manager then no-one is worth any more than anyone else.

Or am I being horribly cynical about this? Maybe Julian is genuinely trying to find a new way of structuring an agency to face recessionary times. Maybe it is all about putting the client first.

It's a nice idea, but I can't see it working. Why would someone opt to work in the backroom on an extended apprenticeship, when they have the opportunity elsewhere to get their hands dirty and make a name for themselves. Any ambitious person would surely choose the latter?

Imagine you're a senior account manager at this agency. Now you've been told that you're a backroom project manager and to stop talking to your clients. Next stop the recruitment consultants?

It doesn't matter what age you are, it's about the attitude and philosophy of both the person and the agency - so statements like this feel more like the act of a desperate man than someone who has the vision to make changes others wish they'd come up with themselves.

It's too easy to class the young as "energy with no direction" and the old as "passive and set in their ways" ... it's one of the bullshit generalisations that has got this industry in the mess that it finds itself in.

The older I get, the more grateful I am I started my career and training at HHCL ...

There are two types of parents in this world: those who will let their kids do all the stuff that they haven't had the opportunity to and those who will refuse them everything just because they didn't have those things when they were young.

Once upon a time when I first moved up to the north I freelanced at this gentleman's agency. One thing struck me, and one thing didn't:

The thing that struck me was every analogy he made made reference to his alleged career as a Leeds United 'supporter' in the 1980s.

The thing that (fortunately) didn't strike me was his mobile phone, when he lost his temper in a meeting and threw it across the room at me.

If only Michael Winner's classic 'calm down dear, it's only a commercial' adverts had been made at that time I would have known what to say to him.

Ayup Simon, I'd forgetten about that.

Rob, was that under Richard Huntigton? Anywaym, what I really want to know is what level does one need to get to earn a pair of Birkies?

I was the 'social experiment' of the partners [job title: sponge] from very early in the piece so by the time Richard came in [97?] I was sitting in a prison somewhere! Probably.

As for Birkies - I offer them as a 'welcome gift' to anyone who joins but funnily enough, people insist that I only give it to them when they feel they've earnt them.

The cynic in me would think they didn't want to be seen dead in them but that's not possible is it?

I completely agree with you, Northern Planner. The idea that youth need to be quite and learn from "experienced" account directors is complete bogus - especially in the digital world.

Who is more qualified to speak on what youth are doing today? A 45 year old account director with a traditional focus for the last 20 years or a twenty something who lives and breathes on the web?

The argument can be made that only account directors can run accounts. That they should be responsible for finding the right people for the clients needs (creatives, production, mobile specialist, etc). I agree with this somewhat - experience brings with it a maturity and ability to learn (from previous situations) who to bring and what to do.

But we are in the ideas business and those ideas can come from anyone, anywhere, anytime.

I go to work and want to be inspired by a diverse team of people. I want junior members to challenge what I say, think and do to make me (and our product) better.

Anyone can execute a project. Some are better than others but shipping a banner and managing a timeline is easy. Thinking isn't.

Perhaps Mr Kynaston should listen to Mr van Gogh, whom I believe said: "It is a pity that as one gradually gains experience, one loses one's youth".

I think it's blindly ignorant not to see the potential of the experience-hungry whippersnappers. After all, they will be the ones leading that company in years to come. This applies to society in general, not just our industry. If everyone's attitude was to pat the head of juniors with a 'look but don't touch' mentality, how can they expect fruitful evolution?

Brian Clough, used to talk about a "blend" to his teams, (probably best encapsulated in the Derby County 1971-72 title-winning team- shameless plug).
Alan Hansen said you'd never win anything with kids.
One of the worst football pundits on TV and best managers of all time both agreed in the end with Minogue and Williams that the "kids are alright".

To suggest that the growth of an agency's staff will be to the detriment of the agency's performance on the account I think is a little short-sighted.

Rory Sutherland's opening piece of advice when my grad intake started at Ogilvy a couple of years ago was for us to "have an opinion". I guess because the one's with the best arguement behind them and the most validity wins.

And of course, there is no direct correlation between a good opinion and experience. Alan Hansen has been a shit football pundit for years after all.

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