Are You Up for Knocking the Hustle?
"The one thing agencies should actually bill for, the one thing clients can't do themselves, is creative—the ideas. The brilliant tagline. The great commercial. The iconic logo. Agencies make so much money hustling clients on markups that they basically throw the creative in for free. Creatives, like myself, develop brand-building ideas—lexicon-changing catchphrases, pop culture changing moments, imagery that gives a faceless corporation a personality people can relate to... And for our troubles? We get an annual salary, maybe a little bit of change per day or per project as freelancers."
So says Hadji J.S. Williams, and he should know, as someone who toiled for 13 years within the belly of the ad agency beast. The above is an extract from his upcoming book Knock The Hustle: How to Save Your Job and Your Life from Corporate America. Williams sees in the typical agency approach to business and human relations all that is wrong with contemporary life and he provides a pretty compelling case for the need to rethink things from the ground up. Radical stuff, indeed.
Here's another juicy morsel: "Whether it's a blue chip brand with a multi-million dollar budget or a mom 'n' pop shop with mini-me money, the marketing hustle's the same: Budgets. Get the budget up, spend the budget up, get the client to re-up. (Repeat.) The golden rule on budgets: Use it or lose it. (Ask any politician or CEO and they'll tell you the same.) It's hard to justify needing "more" later if you don't spend "all" now. So when clients want to go "right" they get sent "left" because "left" is more profitable. I've seen this hustle run on just about every client I've ever worked on." Sound familiar?
Hadji provides a generous dose of material on his site, so if you're half as disgusted as him with the malaise of corporate life in general and the agency/marketing domain in particular—or if you're just plain curious—I encourage you to check it out.