If you have ever worked for an agency or with an agency, the word ‘culture’ has sure been tossed around a time or two. The two words seem to go hand in hand. Advertising agencies have had an offbeat culture since the 1960’s largely fueled by the Creative Revolution, compared to the rest of Corporate America. But it wasn’t until after the recession in the early 2000’s, and again after the market crashed in 2007-2008, that we saw this notion of ‘culture’ really start to take shape. Both times the market turned around, companies sought to bring in top talent, by luring people in with collaborative work spaces, ping pong tables and casual dress codes. And while agencies and digital startups have lead the culture scene in an effort to foster creativity, many corporations quickly followed suit.
I’ve have had the opportunity to work for a handful of agencies, each with unique cultures. I’ve seen agency culture (this intangible aura of sorts) grow, shift, and even waver at times. And in my experience, these changes rarely had to do with catered lunches and unlimited soft drinks. The culture had everything to do with the people immersed in it.
The people are the heart of any agency. I believe that it’s the people who ultimately decide the cultural direction of a company, not the perks. The people that you surround yourself with day in and day out. To teach. To learn from. To share great ideas with. To spill your weekend happenings with when Monday rolls around. The people you respect. It’s the people that make an agency culture great – and the work even better.
So how important is culture to an agency? In short, very. A positive culture with happy employees produces the best work. When looking at agencies you may want to work for or with, get to know the people – they are the cornerstone to any great agency. Look beyond the perks, but do appreciate them. The Chex Mix is not going to eat itself!