Creative Orchestra Plays With New Creative Model

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The phrase "not-for-profit" isn't often associated with advertising, but a London-based creative shop called Creative Orchestra has made it the cornerstone of its business.

Launched earlier this year by creative directors Chris Arnold and Victoria Gallardo, the shop has been given official status as a CIC (Community Interest Company) in the U.K. in order, Arnold says, to remain committed to reinvesting in creative talent rather than just making shareholders happy.

"To get this status you have to write a mission statement that becomes legally binding. So, we are legally bound to cultivating creativity and delivering exceptional creativity," says Arnold, a veteran of Saatchi & Saatchi. "It might be a world first -- an ad agency legally bound to be creative. This means we don't start compromising to meet shareholder dividends. Look at any big agency in a big group, every year there is pressure to give the shareholders more so you compromise, cut corners and finally your original ethos is totally corrupted. This doesn't mean we don't seek to be commercially successful, any profit we make gets reinvested in more talent, more resources, a bigger office -- all the things that add value."

Beyond it's CIC status, the shop holds to a creatives-only ethos providing agencies and clients a group of 25 young creatives to work primarily on youth-focused brands, eschewing the usual accounts and administrative department layers. It's a way of cultivating and growing creative talent that Arnold and Gallardo claim larger agencies can't or won't.

Chris Arnold
Chris Arnold
"Currently, cutbacks are not being kind to young creatives; either they are getting exploited or less opportunity," says Arnold. "Many also feel a lot of agencies are not as creative in ethos and approach as they thought and do little to train them. Unlike any agency we know, we engage the young creatives in every aspect of the business, like a co-operative. They share responsibility for meeting clients, finding new business, PR and marketing the agency. This is so they learn about business and how to think like entrepreneurs."

In outlining some of the shop's overall goals, Arnold invokes non-traditional agency Anomaly: "We aim to get the industry to refocus on talent, not see agencies as factories as so many have become where creativity has been commoditized. Using a phrase of Anomaly's --We sell talent not time."

As for the creative shop-for-hire model, Arnold says the age of the one-stop shop agency is over and clients are getting tired of seeing money get put into administrative costs instead of creative innovation. And while Creative Orchestra is happy to handle full accounts, he says "clients are moving away from putting their eggs in one basket, certainly in the U.K. The world is changing. Long term contracts are getting shorter. Clients want the freedom to move about and buy the best thinking."

So far, the new shop has begun work on several projects, including a full campaign for Xtraordinary People, a British Dyslexia Association initiative.
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