The three little bears

I've worked at three different kinds of agencies since starting out in the ad biz. One was small (four people to begin with, eight when I left), one was quite large (like a thousand or something ridiculous) and one that was medium sized (between 100 and 200). Having worked in a variety of environments, I wondered if I could offer up some pros and cons to each, just in case somebody was wondering about the aforementioned topic. Anyways, here's a few things I've noticed:

Small Agency

Pro's
You do everything, start to finish
You feel like part of a family
Uncomplicated work environment
You feel like you own the place

Con's
You do everything, start to finish
Social life?
No creative resources

Medium Agency

Pro's
You have help from other departments to realize the work
Good peer pressure
Good roster of hungry clients (I think the size of the shop attracts the size of the client)
Lot's of assignments floating around
Little politics

Con's
Long hours
Medium is a stepping stone to large

Large agency

Pro's
Good pay and benefits
Short hours
Nice people

Con's
Lot's of politics
Too many people working on a project
A good meeting is better than good work

I think it might be obvious, but I like to work in a medium size shop. To me it just feels right. Anybody else have a different point of view? Agree, disagree?

30 comments:

DJiLLPAPA said...

i, too, am a fan of the mid-size agency model. especially one that makes you feel like you are part of a family, lets you take ownership of the work like you did it from start to finish and operates like a large agency when it comes to resources (and perks). i was fortunate enough to kick off my career at one just like that. i've been at a couple other shops since, and it took me a while to realize that ideal work environments like that are few and far in between. of course, wherever you end up, at the end of the day, 'tis what you make of it.

Jim Morris said...

Having experienced all three sizes of agencies myself, another difference that struck me is the speed at which work is expected to be done. Generally, the smaller the shop, the shorter the deadlines. The good part about fast timetables is that you get a lot of stuff done, which feels good. The bad part is that the conceptual phase is usually so short it tends to preclude the better ideas that are more likely to come with time to think. Big agencies often have ridiculously long timetables. Start to finish can take months sometimes.The challenge becomes how to sustain the passion over such a long haul.

Tom Tom said...

I'm at what some might call a "big agency" right now (500 people). But I've worked at behemoths (thousands), 12 person shops, and mid-sizers (300). My take is totally different though.

While the giant one was slow and lumbering (creatively as well) it did have tons of resources (I freelanced and had personalized stationary by the end of my first day).

The small one, everyone did everything, creatives had to answer the main line sometimes, but we all left right around 5 (not the late hours mentioned in this piece).

At the mid-sized one the hours were insane, the people were overworked, the deadlines were short, but not that unreasonable.

Now at the "large but not monster" agency, the creative is great, the hours are long (much longer than at the small or huge shop), and sometimes very short deadlines.

I think the takeaway is that it has less to do with the size of the shop and more to do with the people running it (or rather, the management's ability to keep quality control up). Some small shops run like big shops and visa-versa. I think that's been the biggest shock to me.

I personally like the big places because it's that much harder to stand out. It really pushes you to do something different. It's why I like cities versus towns too.

Anonymous said...

I think you guys are absolutely right. I think you can make anyone of the sized shops a great place to work. And I think an agency regardless of size can do great work. But I think everyone has a perfect fit, some guys/gals have their best ideas first and a fast paced agency is great for them. Inversely sometimes a slow methodical place is the right fit.

-JohnnyLefthand (couldn't log in to publish a comment)

BrownBoy said...

I enjoyed this topic, it reminds me of the time in every young mans life where we ask the question...Is it a good sized. And like I found out, "the bigger the truck the smaller, well, you know is." I think it fits in to this topic.

Shit, I think have a big truck. awwwww.

dan said...

interesting article. :D i worked with a really big agency before and now im in a small one. :D Lots of differences but i'm more comfortable working in my small agency right now. But yea, we are trying to grow it into a mid size one. :D The good thing about small shops is you get to see much of the stuff people are doing and collaboration is more of a personal level. And ofcourse no politics which is a big plus

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