Oneness as the Feng Shui of Great Ad Making

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BART CLEVELAND: My 16 year-old son has been talking about joining the Marines a little too often for my comfort. When I put aside my fear of what is going on in the world, I realize how good the Marines would be for him. The focus of purpose and discipline would quickly transform to manhood what otherwise may take years of civilian life to accomplish. It made me remember that that Marine-like focus is why some agencies become icons in our industry. Browse some of the websites of our more esteemed agencies and you’ll see what I mean. There is a single philosophy that permeates every aspect of the agency. Oneness is the feng shui of great ad making.

Building an agency into a team of one is not an easy thing to do. We’re not the military. It seems the best agency culture is one that allows a symbiosis of personalities who share one common goal. A culture cannot remain alive if it never changes. I like change. I like the idea of people’s individuality making my agency different than we were before. It is good for ad agencies to change because advertising must change to be great.

But the one common goal must be in place or you will go nowhere. An agency must have core values clearly defined and firmly in place. How many agencies have you worked for where the partnership doesn’t agree on the agency’s direction? They are like bordering countries that are doing their best to peacefully co-exist while loathing one another. Chaos results when the entities must come together.

A closed society doesn’t permit experimentation thus it doesn’t experience innovation. So if you feel your agency is a bit dull, shake something up. An agency I worked for once made everyone switch offices. We mixed all of the departments together. It made a difference. People started communicating better.

The Marines are the finest fighters on the planet. They do it by sending people to a boot camp where a drill sergeant who completely breaks a recruit down mentally and physically so he or she can be rebuilt into the world’s premiere warrior. This transformation can happen to an agency. One insight we should use from the Marines is how they design their soldiers to be independent thinkers. If the chain of command is lost there is no breakdown in decisiveness on the battlefield. That’s something to be emulated.
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