I don’t think my children have ever been more visibly impressed with their father than when we were upgraded on a flight to New York. Admittedly they were young and impressionable but when the head steward came over to introduce himself, to ‘personally’ welcome us on-board and assure us of any assistance we might require on the flight, their jaws dropped. They had no idea that Daddy was such a VIP. Of course it was simply the precious metal status of my frequent flyer account that did it. As a global planner I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time on airplanes - when you know that the best business seat on a 747 is 64A you know you’re travelling too much.
Global accounts don’t often get a great press. Of course no one likes the travel, but I worked on Unilever, PepsiCo and General Motors and loved it. Yes, there’s the adventure of new people and places but I loved the work itself just as much. As a planner, the challenge of finding insights that remain potent as they span countries and continents is a fascinating tussle. Realising the enormity of even just your known unknowns about another culture was always humbling and emerging with a creative campaign that works effectively across borders is a fabulous reward. When you hear a mum in the squalor of India talk about how dirt is good you know you’ve untangled a strategic knot.
And so this summer when I turned down the chance of leading the strategy on one of the world’s most valuable brands I surprised myself by turning it down.
Instead, I’ve found a new opportunity. The Minimart in total employs fewer than half the people in just my former department in Mumbai alone but it is very different.
What the Minimart has is amazing. There’s an energy and excitement about the place that is exhilarating. It moves at pace. We make decisions fast and we act on them. We do stuff ourselves; we write, we design, we code, we shoot. There are no departments. There is no hierarchy. Everybody makes the tea.
But I haven’t turned my back on global work. These days you don’t need a global agency to make a global campaign. Clients don’t need to foot the bill for an agency network when a small team does the work. And they’re not all looking for a cumbersome campaign that depends on TV to survive, takes years in the making and costs a fortune to run. The old industry structure based on layers of individuals is dead. Now we have experienced people in small teams working at the coal face. I bring a lifetime of global strategy experience to a small shop in Soho.
We work digitally, we collaborate, we work in projects, we create ideas that travel and grow, from Ovaltine in Africa to Fyffes in America.
And so we’re a ‘global’ agency because our work runs globally, it just starts life in one small open plan office. So now I get to do the global work without the travel. It’s a win-win. Well, it is for everyone except my kids who’ll just have to get used to turning right on airplanes.
Published by: Brent Gosling in Blog