“It wasn’t driven by some big fight, not driven by bankruptcy,” says McAllister. “There’s still work to be done. We simply didn’t want to grow by chasing work that wasn’t fun for us to do anymore.”
Upheaval in the industry, particularly what clients are seeking from agencies today, are to blame.
“There are major shifts of what clients are expecting from agencies large and small,” notes McAllister. “They’re keeping some of the best creative opportunities, where they used to rely on agencies, in-house.”
The news of Wexley’s closing, delivered to staff this week, comes just two years after Seattle agency, Creature, went belly up. Creature filed for bankruptcy after being sued by Time Inc. for allegedly failing to pay for ad placements.
In Wexley’s favor, the agency never had to lay off staff during its 15-year run.
What can we learn from the disruptions to the industry that are causing smaller “creative” shops to close?
McAllister thinks creative solutions are manifesting in different areas now. “They’re in products and start-ups, and these are marketing solutions and branding solutions,” he says. He also believes it may be time to “blow up the whole creative services model—not taking on assignments, but creating them.”
The takeaway is makers gonna make, but making ads has lost its cache. It’s more fun and more profitable today to create intellectual property and/or “movements” that brands can leverage and benefit from. Here’s a great example from Wexley of work that’s bigger than an ad campaign:
Previously on Adpulp: Valuable Lessons Learned At Wexley School For Girls