Fix Your Agency Talent Drain With Praise, Respect, Money and Skill

There’s a lot of noise about agencies failing to innovate and how this doesn’t work for today’s young workforce. In many instances the complaints are highly credible. Other times, it doesn’t add up to more than bitching about work.

Murat Mutlu, a product designer and co-founder of Marvel App, offers up his take on why talented creatives leave the agency on Creative Review.

His summary:

1) You won’t stop taking on shit work
2) You don’t innovate
3) You keep hiring shit
4) You don’t stop taking on projects that can’t be delivered unless we work 12 hour days
5) You don’t give staff any credit
6) You don’t buy us decent equipment

Man, advertising agency managers sound like a bunch of pricks in his assessment. I can relate to that. Many agency leaders are pricks.


But many agency leaders are not pricks, so the above list of complaints I can do without (it’s obvious to me), but I love the following insight Mutlu provides:

Whilst working at Isobar, every talented graduate or young UI designer I tried to recruit wanted to get experience working on products. They didn’t care about the type of work the agency produced. The brands were no big draw either. iPhone app for a beer brand? Mobile site for moisturising cream? So what?

When one of the designers told me “I want to look after users, not brands”, I had no reply, he was right. That’s all that you ever really do in a place like that.

“I want to look after users, not brands.” Exactly!

Ad people who advocate for the customer do the brands in their care a great service because that’s how you establish and maintain brand loyalty.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.