Innovation won’t save the creative department.
Samuel Tait

I disagree that creative departments haven’t changed in the past 20 years. In fact, just in the last five years there has been a marked change in how we work.

The very notion that there is a single model for a creative department is outdated.

At my agency we work differently on pretty much every project. We create a new team for every brief and then come up with a model that best serves that particular project. This could be anything from a traditional copywriter/AD team to a huge group of specialist working across agencies and countries. This agility is made possible by a million small innovations the industry has adopted in recent years — from Skype, Dropbox, WhatsApp and Agile to custom software and hacked-together solutions that are in constant flux.

The table in your article in particular is riddled with false assumptions:

  1. Yes, for convenience we track our work by time, but we (and our clients) measure our value by the results of the work we do for them. We’ll often make a loss on a particular project to ensure that it exceeds our client’s expectations. The result is more business that leads to more profit. If we just charged the maximum amount of hours we could get away with, we’d go under very quickly.
  2. I don’t understand the problem with managing risk. Our clients entrust us with brands worth billions of dollars, so of course we need to protect them to our utmost ability. The startup model is high-risk, high-reward, but with that comes a high failure rate that the likes of Coca-Cola will never accept.
  3. No client wants a Jack-of-all-trade agency anymore. They want specialist agencies who are able to collaborate effectively and play nicely with other specialists.
  4. Don’t really understand what you mean here either. We’ve had great success in pitching proactive ideas to our clients and driving internal and external innovation projects. If you mean that the process is not innovative, I also disagree. Client communication has become a lot more two-way in recent years. It’s no longer a question of the client sending the suit a brief and then seeing the work 2 weeks later — we are in constant (often hourly) communication with our clients while we’re working on projects for them.

All in all, this article displays a little understanding of the current state of the industry. Innovation is deeply entrenched in everything we do, and as long as we have original ideas to sell we’ll most certainly still be around far beyond 2016.