Creature of London Managing Partner Dan Shute gives us his passionate verdict on the remuneration driven Performance Adaptathon.
Right. Now, where was I? Ah yes.
I was on the 29th floor of Millbank Tower, in a hot room, surrounded by a thousand (at least it felt like it) people who worked in advertising or marketing, in some way or another, being told by my Head of Account Management, Zoe Verrion, not to make a nuisance of myself at what was our first event as brand new members of the IPA.
Some of the people in that room were clients, some were agency, some were client service, some were finance; hell, some were even procurement, though nobody particularly wanted to sit next to them. We were all there, though, to take part in the IPA’s Performance Adaptathon, and to sort out the terrible f***ing mess that is agency remuneration in 2014.
A lot of very smart, very experienced people spoke, and they talked about some very interesting things particularly the ambition to work towards a new client/agency charter that would allow, not just fair, but innovative forms of remuneration. It was great to be a part of it, and to make a nuisance of myself during it.
Now, I’m not going to try to summarise what everyone said here - I wouldn’t do it justice. Instead, I’m going to pick on three points that I thought were interesting and which I felt the need to make a fuss about on the day.
1) Time-based remuneration is not a bad thing, per se. Perhaps, in an ideal world, we’d all be paid entirely according to the quality of what we’d done, rather than simply for the act of doing it, but in that ideal world, Creature of London wouldn’t exist.
When you’re a startup, cash is king - and without fees that are based on time and sometimes even paid in advance (albeit ‘in advance’ 30-90 days after the event - Doctor Who s***, right there), there wouldn’t be any cash.
That means you either need to rely on personal wealth, or investment from outside - and suddenly we’re just tech startups, chasing numbers to secure the next round of investment, which is a pretty bleak scenario. Let’s strive to improve the status quo, but let’s not drown the next wave of entrepreneurs in our champagne bathwater before we throw it out - if you know what I mean.
2) If we don’t value ourselves as agencies, who will? This is a bit of a personal bugbear of mine - the reason costs get driven down, and the reason we don’t always get paid fairly, is because we let it happen, because we know that if we don’t take the hit, someone else will. That’s nobody’s fault but ours. Let’s get better at looking after ourselves and each other, yeah? It hurts when we get hurt, but it hurts a f*** of a lot more when we’re hurting ourselves.
3) I’ve left the most controversial one ’til last: procurement are not d***heads. Nope. They’re not and the most disappointing thing about the day was how ready a lot of agency folk seemed to be to assert that they are.
We have a rule at Creature: if you assume the person sitting opposite you is a d***head, you’re being a d***head. The job of a procurement department is to make processes more efficient, which frees up cash that we can subsequently use to do more cool stuff. How good is that?
Sure, some procurement folk ARE d***heads, but a lot of them are utterly brilliant; and let’s let the d***head-free industry cast the first stone on the d***head front, yeah? Let’s work to make it better together, rather than just sulking about it. In a day that was decidedly not about sulking, the instinct to blame others was a rare sour note.
ANYWAY. I was excited and optimistic about Tuesday’s event before I went, and I was even more excited and optimistic after it.
At Creature, we’re set up to be as innovative with remuneration as we are with the work we do: we can work for fees, for options, for equity, and even - on rare occasions - for nothing. To see a room full of folk from bigger, potentially less wieldy agencies sharing that vision was actually pretty inspiring.
There’s definitely a fair way to go, and we’re definitely not entirely sure where we’re actually aiming for, but the best thing about Tuesday was the clear and obvious passion that exists, on all sides, for getting us there. I’m looking forward to continuing the journey, along with the rest of the IPA, and to making a bit of a nuisance of myself along the way again.
Dan Shute in Managing Partner at Creature of London.
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Last updated 10/07/2014