A modern tale about the Bluenose and Robin Hood


I work from home. From my basement, actually, (sometimes from a Tim Hortons) in the suburbs. Un-sexy, right? I know, my garage would make for a sexier, iconic story, but I need it for my car.

I’ve run my own ad agency from there for more than six months now – super small but with big balls. No employees, but plenty of seniors freelancers and great talent from all over the place – art directors, writers, proofreaders, designers, producers, account managers, photographers, illustrators, artists…

The agency already has many great clients – national brands even. I do strategic planning for them, not to mention TV, radio, print, OOH, stunts, social media and content marketing. I do whatever their brand needs to be successful – the whole shebang and the full monty, or something plain and simple if it’s what they really need.

We, my partner and I, aim for success, results, money, the best of show. We aim for fun. And we like it small and human. Is this possible? Is this sustainable? Are we dreaming in colours?

Maybe. But we are definitely not alone.

Plenty of very small shops are opening everywhere, freeing themselves from the traditional agency models of the last century. They trash the old ways and start fresh from the start. They invent the future. Seasoned professionals are quitting the big agency circuit after too many years of frustration to open their own agile shops. They reinvent their future.

Without boundaries or tracks laid out in front of them, small agencies can be more innovative – in both their business models and in what they do. With agility comes the idea of invention. With a closer relation and greater proximity to their clients, small places can find inspiration to innovate and find new solutions by simply spending some time in the field with their clients.

Remember the field, guys?

Timing is everything, and the time is now. Economy is down. Clients can’t afford to pay top dollars for empty PowerPoint presentations from too many people with nice suits.

The gold rush is history. Sorry again, guys. Clients need entrepreneurs who understand their business and daily challenges. They need more and better for less. They need stuff that lasts. They need results. They need all their dollars to be working dollars. They are already jumping ship, leaving the majestic steamboats for the fast and elegant Bluenose. But mostly, they are ready to work hand-in-hand with people who, actually, are on the deck.

The world needs advertisers to be more honest. We need to stop bullshitting, and being “nice” once in a while to please an ad jury somewhere. We have too much power over the way people live their lives. I like to believe that smaller shops can take advantage of their new-found agility and liberty of actions to be leaders in this New “possible” World. We can influence the way things are done, the way things are made. We can definitely influence what’s being said. Smaller shop can also say “no way” way more easily.

Last, but not least, to change the agency model is not only to change its organizational model and size, it’s to change its economic model too. I like to think that one can redistribute the money more fairly to the project’s “real” contributors, the ones who actually work on the mandates. Let’s call it the Robin Hood effect.

I know, I know, I’m a dreamer, but like a famous guy said, I’m not the only one.


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