Thriving At An Ad Agency Today: Bury Your Ego, Chase Your Fear


Do ego and creativity in advertising go hand in hand?

Nope, probably just the opposite according to CP+B Chairman and Co-Founder Chuck Porter, speaking at an Advertising Week session Thursday morning in New York along with the agency’s global CEO Lori Senecal and moderator Jim Cooper, editor of Adweek.

Playing well with others is more critical than ever in the agency business, the CP+B executives told the Advertising Week gathering. That’s because collaboration on many levels is essential to accomplishing goals both internally and for clients.

“We try very hard to hire people that will bury their ego for the sake of an idea,” Porter said.

Within the agency, added Senecal, communication and “solving challenges together” is critical to success. “There’s a new level of collaboration.”

Hierarchal organizational structures and complicated processes can stifle creativity, said Porter.  At CP+B, “Every office is autonomous. They own their work. We don’t have a uniform style and that’s okay.”

On the subject of data, Porter opined that while it can be useful for helping to solve problems, “it’s not great at making work.” If that were the case, he said, “then every songwriter would be John Lennon.”

The big challenge for creatives, said Senecal, is breaking through the cacophony of marketing noise that consumers are exposed to daily with messages or techniques that are impactful. “Scale doesn’t create impact but impact often creates scale,” she said.

For years, Porter said he’s believed that “people who tell the best stories are going to win.” That’s just as true today, he added.

As for the industry’s diversity problem, Senecal said that it’s just plain common sense that agencies need to diversify. “The bigger question is how to get the most impact and value out of a diverse workforce.”

When asked what advice they would give young people in the business, Porter replied, “Take the crappy pieces out of your book.” He’d rather see two excellent pieces of work than a book full of mediocrity, he added.

Senecal responded, “Go in the direction of your fear, that’s where the growth opportunities are.”

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