Thought Leadership

Doing things differently

Industry leaders share why they are choosing change in 2022.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director

Share


The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. As we face up to the stark realities of further restrictions and ongoing uncertainty in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis the words of Albert Einstein feel particularly apt. 

Certainly in the wake of the pandemic; the need and desire for change has been one of the most enduring and consistent themes to emerge. Whether the ‘great resignation’ or the rise of direct to consumer ecommerce brands employees and consumers alike are choosing change on-mass. For in the wake of almost two years where so many aspects of life have been on hold there is an innate human urge for a sense of progress that will continue to have a significant impact on business. 

At a time when our collective resilience is being pushed to the limit; the creativity and optimism of change is a potent force. With this in mind as part of our ongoing series we asked a selection of industry leaders what one thing they are committed to doing differently in 2022 and why?

Melissa Chapman

Melissa-Chapman-Jungle-Creations.jpg

Co-Chief Executive Officer

Jungle Creations

The way successful businesses are run has changed: it’s now about entering a partnership with your people rather than exerting power over them. And if you do the former well, it is far more effective than the latter, and has a significantly more positive effect on morale, attitude and mental health. 

This approach is about a two-way conversation, making sure employees feel heard and supported. 

We believe empowered employees are effective employees; by working together you will help your teams thrive and will therefore naturally see better business outcomes. Innovation and collaboration are integral to the creative industries so fostering the right work environment is crucial. 

This approach also means slower churn and a higher level of external interest in vacancies, all of which will continue to add to the growth of the business. 

This year at Jungle we have updated several of our company policies and introduced new initiatives to support the changing needs of our team. This includes a move to a hybrid working model, an updated family benefits policy, and the introduction of employee resource groups and paid time off for volunteering.

All these changes were made following surveys of, and conversations with, our teams that asked for their opinion and experiences and to discover what they need from us to help them thrive both personally and professionally.

Stephen Woodford

Stephen Woodford Colour - USE.jpg

CEO

Advertising Association

In 2022 I want to make the new hybrid working life - that seems to be here for the foreseeable future - work much better. I hope we can all see a clearer demarcation and difference between working from home (primarily back-to-back Zoom and Teams calls) with the office (more of the same, but with the added journey to work and less opportunity for random snacks). 

I am probably in a very small minority, but I’d happily see video calls used only as a last resort, however, they’re also going to be here for the foreseeable future and make hybrid working more workable. I am very excited about our move to our new office in Berners Street. Our plans for 2022, mindful of government advice, will be for the AA team to be in the office on the same two days each week. We want to make the most of the ‘whole team’ culture, collaboration and creativity that we all feel has been missing. So, in the office, we want to minimise screen-based meetings and maximise in-person time with our team and our members. A big part of that is making our new place an industry convening space, again something we’ve missed, and we’ve had that feedback from many of our members too. They like the AA as the place where people from all across the industry meet and work together on the common challenges and opportunities we face - it’s a big part of what makes the AA tick. So, we’re looking forward to welcoming our members and friends to our new home and I hope across our industry that we get more of the energy and all the other myriad benefits that good communities at work generate.

Dulcie Cowling

hellyh.jpg

Co-Founder and Head of Creative

Hell Yeah!

In 2022, I’ll be saying no a lot more. 

When we set up Hell Yeah! In 2019, we knew we wanted to do things differently. But the pandemic has really crystallised how much it matters on all fronts. I’m coming into 2022 feeling a lot bolder about our business choices -  and saying no to clients that make the world a worse place to live. 

We have power - advertising is changing the world all the time, in ways briefed to us by our clients. So 2022 is the time we start using this power for good. Time is running out, and we don’t have time to fuck around. Surely our greatest weapon in the fight against climate change is simply the word no. The argument of agencies working with brands to help them change feels far too flimsy at this stage. It’s a bit of a stretch to imagine an agency holding anywhere near the kind of sway needed to change the whole business model of a corporate giant, less likely still, one they are taking money from.

Real power and real action comes with no. No, we don’t accept those practices, so no, we can’t promote your goods or services. One ‘no’ says something, many ‘no’s have the power to say everything, and make change happen far more quickly than fooling ourselves that we can coerce clients into changing whilst doing exactly as they say.

Big companies can adapt, and will adapt - we just have to force their hand sooner. In a world where money talks, the fastest way we can make this happen is by being selective with where we spend our money - but also who we make money from. When we’re in the business of making money for clients, ask ourselves, do I want more or less of that in the world?

I have a lot of faith in the future because I think Gen Z have already proved themselves at being very good at saying no. There are brands that are definitely on the ‘no’ list but most are in a grey area. We don’t just work for non-profits and charities, so it’s always going to be an imperfect process. Each agency will have a different set of boundaries. It's easy to say no to tobacco, but what about dairy and meat? What about alcohol? Who is making their own corner of the world better somehow?

When we had just started up, in early 2020, we were offered work from a very very big corporation with a shady track record. We had no money - and we said no. Did it set back our agency growth? Definitely. We’re not here to judge people. Being very ethical is a financial and class luxury. But in advertising, it’s a decision we can all make.

Here’s to saying no in 2022.

Colin Kennedy

Colin Kennedy Redwood.png

CEO

Redwood

The one thing I plan to do different next year is simple: reframe our offer to creative talent.

The current talent market is inflationary, even febrile. If we enter the arms race of rewards and awards, we will be outgunned pretty quickly.

Luckily, everything you read about the “great resignation” suggests that the post-Covid Gen Z workforce wants more than baubles and a bonus. Reframing value exchange for a generation that is more value-driven will naturally force all agencies to revisit their own values. Anyone planning to ask candidates if they have any questions at the end of an interview better have good answers lined up on diversity, sustainability and flexible working.

But that stuff is just table stakes.

True difference comes from making the work itself more meaningful. Not just the purpose projects and the creative fireworks – all of it. 

Redwood is a Creative Studio. Part agency, part production house. We combine thinking and doing to help clients make more of the right things.

And so our reframed message to talent next year is simple – at Redwood you will make more things, you will learn to make more things and you will also make your own things. In short, to reframe our offer to creative talent, we plan to reframe what we mean by creative. Creative stops being a noun that only certain roles can lay claim to and starts being an adjective again. An approach to solving all problems, not a self-selecting sub-set of work. Being creative becomes something anyone can do.

This way of working offers clients more opportunities to collaborate, but it also means that talent at all levels, with all kinds of skills, are exposed to more ways of working, given more chances to contribute. Best answer wins.

It’s a no-silo, flat-structure, best-answer-wins culture that owes more to start-ups than agencies. Unsurprisingly a few of our key talent have start-up experience, as well as time in newsrooms.

Based on this mixed experience, Redwood already prioritises Creative Leadership – client relationships and commercial decisions overseen by the creatives on deck. And so next year, we want to reinvent our coaching and training for all staff around the principles of Creative Leadership. Our offer to young talent becomes simple: expose them to opportunity, let them lead, encourage them to create better – better ideas, better culture, better agency.

Create Better will start with a Story Bursary where we will set aside funds for our staff and network talent to develop and make their own film projects while at Redwood. But create better doesn’t stop at the agency door. Indeed, perhaps the most radical part of teaching creatives to stand alone, to be commercial and even entrepreneurial, is being invested in their post-agency career. Training them to do things they might only need when they are in fact setting up their own thing.

Because in a more value-driven value exchange, preparing creative talent to leave might end up being the best way to encourage them to stay.

Vicky Bullen

Vicky_Bullen.png

CEO

Coley Porter Bell

The past year or two have brought seismic changes and it would be tempting to say NO MORE! But of course, change never stops for our clients - changes in technology from AI to the metaverse, changes in social and cultural attitudes and the shift towards a more inclusive world. Businesses and brands are going to continue to be reconsidering their models, services and offers.

So, my commitment in 2022 is to keep learning. Being curious and learning about those changes and the opportunities they bring for brands and brand identity. The coming year is the year I will put myself in a metaverse.

The shift towards a more inclusive world is a welcome change and one we have reflected on as a business. As a team, we committed last year to be much more conscious of the impact of our actions and behaviours on different groups and people in society. This year we want to ramp that up - from avoiding negative impact to making a positive one through our work, our talent and our organisation.

For part one please click here.

Related Tags

Choosing Change

Agencies Featured