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An End to Crude Clients & Dodgy Job Titles, Please


2014 Wish List: Juliet Haygarth, Managing Director, Brothers and Sisters

An End to Crude Clients & Dodgy Job Titles, Please


2013 was a pretty good year. In many ways it felt easier than the previous few.   I'm not sure if that's because Brothers and Sisters was on a roll or because the improving economic climate began to bear fruit for us all, but either way it felt better.  

If this trend continues, 2014 will be full of promise.  I want to feel proud of the work our industry creates.  I‘d like to be entertained by a profusion of big, creative ideas that move me.  In the last few years, I think the output of the industry at large has been a little lackluster. Theoretically, a recession should lead to a stream of innovative, brave work, where people risk it all in order to grow against the market.  In practice, I think it scares people and scared people rarely have the balls to make brave things.

However, my dearest wish in 2014, is to eradicate bad procurement people and make heroes of the good procurement people. Good procurement people are trained to understand value and how to negotiate.  They create partnerships based on a fair and sustainable financial footing.  Ironically, a good procurement person helps both sides to stop worrying about money, so we can move on and focus on making great work.  Bad procurement on the other hand just feels like corporate approved bullying. 

This brings me neatly on to thing that pissed me off the most in 2013 – a tender document sent to us by a highly profitable, established, company of considerable scale. I was happily completing it, until I reached the financial bit.  In essence their proposal was if you wanted to receive 100% of the total on your invoice, you’d have to wait over 6 months to be paid.  If you wanted paying any quicker (say a mere 3 months) you’d receive 80-85% of your payment.

That is not respectful.  It shows no understanding of what it takes to run a small or medium sized creative company or the value our services can add to a business.  A fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage is not a lot to ask and we should not be reduced to bartering as if we were buying a pair of slippers in a Moroccan souk.  I was shocked other agencies proceeded with the pitch on this basis, so maybe another wish for 2014 is on the rare occasions a client tries to pull a fast one like this, we all cry foul.  2014 could be the year we stopped selling our skills short.

I hope 2014 sees us banning some of the more ridiculous job titles we have in agency land.  If you ever find yourselves bored with a few friends at some industry do, my favourite game is to see who can find the person with the most ridiculous job title in the room.  A business card must be obtained as evidence (it’s less rude than dragging the person over and just pointing at them).  Anyhow, this year the game has lost a little edge.  It’s become too easy.   When you’ve scored a card with the title, ‘Head of Deviant Ventures’ in the first two minutes and you’re not at a sex industry party, you know it’s gone too far.

My last hope for 2014 is we stop thinking of digital and social as a special skill that some people have and some people don’t.  It is not an optional extra, it’s a fundamental part of what we do.   You shouldn’t need to launch a special content division; that core service should be knitted into the fabric of the agency you have already.  I’m baffled why you’d need a role like 'creative technologist' in this day and age?  I did try and find a definition to help me, but I couldn’t.  In such an information vacuum I can only assume that there are a few agencies left out there still who have so many old school creatives obsessed by making TV ads that they have to employ a 23yr old from Shoreditch to help them understand what you can do on the internet.

I hope 2014 is the year we all realize that technology isn’t frightening, it can turbo charge creativity, not limit it
Juliet Haygarth Managing Director Brothers and Sisters

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Brothers & Sisters, Tue, 24 Dec 2013 10:53:36 GMT