Want to know how to transform a century-old ad agency culture into one of the creatively hottest and most award- and new business-winning ones? It’s easy -- all you need to do is get your hygge on. That’s more or less what Grey Advertising Global Creative Chairman Per Pedersen told attendees during his “The Future Belongs to the Rule Breaks” presentation during the opening day today at the Festival of Creativity in Cannes, France.
“Hygge,” is a Danish word losing translating into what happens when people gather, form bonds and feelings of well-being and togetherness.
It wasn’t one of the “ten rules” Pedersen posed during his presentation (see below), but it is what those rules are ultimately intended to attain if you want to be a winning, creatively charged and successful agency.
Not surprisingly, the rules include advice like, well, abandoning rules, evoking the swagger of a “rock star,” ignoring what clients ask you to do, and hiring the best, hungriest and most talented people, then letting them do their thing.
Pedersen said Grey’s transformation began with a summit of its creative leadership team held at an ice hotel in Sweden, which he described as a “very uncomfortable place.”
“It’s awful,” he said, adding: “Yes, you do sleep on ice and it’s colder inside your room than outside. It’s survival.”
But the spartan conditions led to some epiphanies and hygge, he said.
“We decided to to things differently,” he explained noting: “We are very much like the ice hotel. It melts. Every year it melts. And we have to build the whole thing over again.”
He then offered an example of a breakthrough creative idea that also leveraed the metaphor of ice melting, showing a video of Project Trumpmore, which is trying to crowdfund the creation of a 115-foot high sculpture of Donald Trump on a floating iceberg to draw awareness to his climate policies.
Pedersen concluded that it’s imperative for agency creatives to “get out of the boardroom” and lead their organizations once again with risky, breakthrough ideas.
“I think we forgot to be human and I think we can do much more to create a culture where everyone wants to do great work and everyone wants to kick ass. Remember, culture eats strategy,” he said.
Pedersen's rules for rule-breakers:
Great work solves all problems. Let absolutely nothing get in the way of that.
Stop doing ads that look like ads.
Don’t chase the awards. Let the awards come to you. Work great to do great work.
Have the swagger of a rock star. Win in pop culture and don’t ever become corporate.
Get out from the boar room and down from the high horse. Be a network of human beings with a shared passion to kick ass.
Put creativity at the center and creative people at the top.
Hire talented, frustrated, hungry people that will do the best work in their career.
Break down the stupid processes that kill creativity. Unleash creativity instead of managing it.
Stop telling your agency what to do. Stop doing what you’re told.