When I left BMP and started GGT, John Webster said I would struggle to make a success of it.
This was because he knew I wasn’t very good at handling middle weight and heavy weight teams.
I’d been trained in New York, and my style was much more American than English.
I wasn’t as polite and gentle as you needed to be.
My style was too combative, my language too confrontational.
But the exact things that made me bad with seniors, made me good with youngsters.
Keep the language simple.
Keep the instructions clear.
Have the same rules for everyone.
Reward results, not people.
Youngsters are much simpler than senior teams.
All youngsters want is work, lots of it.
They want to get their career moving in a hurry.
It had always seemed to me that agency creative departments were run very wastefully.
For what it cost to buy one really expensive senior award-winning creative team, you could get ten younger teams.
As a creative director, I must be able to get more and better work out of ten junior teams than one heavyweight team.
Especially as the award-winning team probably had lots of job offers, so they feel they’re doing you a favour anyway.
Young teams aren’t like that.
Particularly young teams who’d been out of college a couple of years and were stuck in bad agencies.
For them, the job is a lifeline, their one chance get their career on track at a good agency.
So they grab every brief like a present.
Everything’s an opportunity to get some work out that’s going to make their name.
We needed good, young, cheap people like that, to prove you could run an agency with just juniors.
Then we’d train them up, and they’d be as good as, or better than, the expensive heavy weights.
So, over several years, we hired the following.
A young team from Dorlands (Steve Henry and Axel Chaldecott).
A young team from JWT (Dave Cook and Chris Bardsley).
A young team from First City Advertising (Dave Waters and Jan van Mesdag).
A young copywriter from an airbrush studio in Sheffield, and a typographer (Paul Grubb and Sam Hurford).
A young team from Ogilvey (Pete Gatley and Nick Wray).
Then one day at Bounds Green station, I spotted a funny poster saying, “Starve a meter, take the tube”
So I called up FCB and found it was young team called Damon Collins and Mary Wear.
So we hired them too.
And we told them all the rules.
We want three things.
We want a lot of work.
We want it high quality.
And we want it on time.
We won’t tell you how to do it.
We don’t care if we never see you.
But we don’t want to any excuses.
And you know what?
It worked.
We had a great agency full of great youngsters, doing great work.
If I came in at the weekend they were always in there.
Working, playing music, or just hanging out.
Did any of them feel ripped off?
I doubt it.
They all went on to win awards (if you’re into that) at other agencies.
And they all went on to become either creative directors, executive creative directors, or start their own agencies.
“Junior” is just a state of mind.
A great idea doesn’t know it was had by a junior.