Ad Age's ninth annual Small Agency Conference, which took place Tuesday and Wednesday in Los Angeles, provided loads of inspiration and practical advice for the 300-plus attendees who came from as far away as Alaska and Sydney.
The second-day lineup was bookended by laughs and tears. Anselmo Ramos, one of the founders of WPP shop David who recently set out to open independent agency Gut, kicked off the morning with a slightly absurdist, but ultimately inspiring talk on why he decided to go indie. In the afternoon, the venerable Lee Clow, chairman of TBWAMedia Arts Lab and director of media arts at TBWA Worldwide, gave an affecting look back on the legacy of his agency, Jay Chiat and Steve Jobs. There was plenty of substance in between, including a particularly eye-opening, no-B.S. talk from former 4As leader Nancy Hill.
DiMassimo Goldstein Chief Creative Officer Tom Christmann, whose passion for drawing came from watching his artist father Mongo create for everything from t-shirts to vans, captured some of the best moments in sketches. We share some of them below.
Here's Ramos on why he decided to go indie. (Reason 1: It's been his dream since college. Reason 2: He thinks the best work is done by indies.)
Media Sherpas' Nancy Hill gives an eye-opening talk on how it's important for agency leaders to be "servant leaders."
Ad Age Editor Brian Braiker asks Jean Grabow, president and managing partner at Dailey; Ahmad Islam, CEO and managing partner at Ten35; and Sharon Napier, CEO at Partners & Napier, about the ins and outs of selling your agency.
Doug Cameron of former Small Agency honoree DCX Accelerator discusses the agency's culture hacking on projects like the "Trump Hut and "Jesse's Deli."
Erica Fite and Katie Keating, founders of New York boutique Fancy, speak about their year-long quest to nail a coveted client: sex toy store Lion's Den. (Note to Tom: She actually said '300!')
The venerable Lee Clow moves the crowd with his talk about working with Jay Chiat, Steve Jobs and how the agency has tried to maintain its "pirate" attitude over 50 years.