There was the CMO who told us he couldn’t touch the physical store. The entire marketing department saddled with lackluster products, unrealistic sales goals, and no innovation budget. The operations staff who were told to do anything to save a company from going bankrupt, so long as ‘anything’ had nothing to do with changing their products. The brand team that was told they could only invest in ‘working media,’ even after earlier experiments actually grew their business. The legion of marketing managers given less budget and higher expectations year after year. Only on very few occasions, after months of sustained effort, did we ever carry an idea to term. Our clients simply gave up trying to win their own political battles. We were fresh inmates trying to convince resigned convicts to attempt escape.
Fortune 500 companies have such incredible power to reach the masses, do good on their behalf, and generally improve their lives. I’m still attracted to that scale. But if we want to do more with that influence than just fill a media space, if we want to reward more than consistency, if we actually want to be partners with our clients in the creation of something new and amazing that only continues to grow and improve, we must redesign our client’s organizations along with our own. And I couldn’t do that within the walls of an ad agency.