Kill the Slow Burn: Deutsch LA On Ending the ‘Agency Talent Rotisserie’

By Ella Riley-Adams Comment

Last year, 4A’s released a study showing that one-third of agency professionals plan to leave their workplace each year. Deutsch LA calls this the “agency talent rotisserie,” because we are all just slowly roasting chickens, moving from flame to flame.

But agency professionals are not normal chickens by any means. In a new report from Deutsch LA and the 4A’s called Ending the Agency Talent Rotisserie, which we first mentioned last week when the agency sent some amusing promo videos, the two organizations interviewed 1500 ad men and women to find out why one flame is never enough.

Compared to other industries, advertising people see themselves as creative, extroverted, and rule-breakers. The number-one reason people left their agencies was growth opportunity, but growth might not be fueled at another agency. Instead, 50 percent of the survey group said it wouldn’t be hard for them to fit into other industries, and most don’t see agencies as super creative. 60 percent said Apple is the most creative company they know, followed by Google and then Nike.

So we’ve got a bunch of boundary-breaking birds, looking to do something else besides the painful agency slow burn. They’re not afraid to leave, taking talent, brand knowledge, and client relationships with them.

The numbers show some change has to be made. Predictably, Deutsch LA’s solution to the Agency Talent Rotisserie involves creating more playful, startup-like environments where agency pros can test their skills, get creative, and learn from each other. Whether you like it or not, it’s time to cut the crap and shake up a traditional system. Chickens can’t get creative when they’re standing in boxes with their beaks cut off.

Check out more images from Deutsch LA’s presentation along with their more detailed steps for improvement after the jump.

1. Less Fortune 500, more startup. Many agencies are part of large corporations, but they can’t afford to act like them. Agencies need to manage their holding company relationships in a way that gives managers control to respond, react, and support employees. Give people within your agency the ability to run their businesses like their own small companies.
2. Invest in an R & D budget. Bring in people and projects that don’t focus strictly on the bottom line. Agencies now have the resources to build things like apps—so build them for yourselves.
3. Work in smaller teams. Work in lean, flat structures that give everyone participating control of the process and recognition for the outcomes.
4. Create radical learning opportunities. Success in advertising sometimes mean you get locked into a particular account or role where you’ve excelled. So aggressively give people the chance to learn other parts of the business, through agency cross-training.
5. Keep entrepreneurship in-house. Creative people want to stretch, so support their side projects, whether it’s making a movie or starting a nonprofit. Give them time and resources to do these things, and celebrate their successes.