A Sweet Act of Creative Generosity

Most challenges modern agencies face stem from how we, as an industry, spent decades devaluing our one, singular asset: creativity. We gave it away for years since we earned our margins in media markups.

This worked fine, until it didn’t. By the time broadband and mobile fragmented the media landscape into a thousand platforms, we had trained clients not to pay for the one thing we truly own. And the results have not been pretty.

It’s a situation made worse by creative people themselves. We tend to underprice our own product, accepting lower compensation due to our sheer love of making things. That’s why a story last Saturday involving a creative team from Wong Doody LA made me smile so much. Call it “The Saved Quinceañera.”

The creative team was prepping a massive video and still shoot down in Houston with Patrick Molnar, a nationally-recognized, professional lifestyle photographer. As they worked in the museum district off Rice University, producer Amy Wise noticed a group of teenagers posing around a fountain as family members snapped photos with their phones. Being curious and outgoing (invaluable traits in an agency producer), Amy quickly learned it was Jasmine’s quinceañera–the traditional celebration of a fifteen year old girl’s transition from childhood to womanhood. Unfortunately, the large bus they had rented for their celebration hit a curb and blew a tire, setting them back a few hours. By the time they arrived at the park for their shoot, their photographer had given up and left.

And yes, the movie-of-the-week scene you are currently imagining in your head is exactly what happened next. Amy told the creative team, the creative team told Patrick, and within minutes, a major professional photographer was lining up shots of the young woman and her court, saving the day with a level of professionalism far beyond anything the family might have imagined. For no other reason other than it was fun, and it would brighten this girl’s day, transforming disappointment into delight.

The whole experience lasted less than fifteen minutes, but in that time, Patrick squeezed off bursts, insuring he’d have lots of selects to choose from, which he did later that night, retouching frames in the hotel bar.

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Unretouched photo courtesy of Patrick Molnar.

Creative people get into the business for the joy of making things. On Saturday afternoon, they didn’t make an ad or a piece of content or a digital experience; they simply made someone’s day. And in this case, that feeling was compensation enough. Well done Matt Burgess, Vanessa Witter, Callie Householder, Amy, and Patrick.

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Fake Note, True Leader

A few years back, I found myself at one of those interminable, mandatory, multi-agency meetings called by a major client. About half the content at these meetings proves truly valuable. Unfortunately, there’s the other half consisting of client filler and other agency throats jockeying to ask the insightful, incisive question they hope will lead to a bigger slice of the pie for their firm.

Anyway, I sat next to this nice bearded guy who seemed smarter than most. Late in the morning, as the presentations ground on, I was surprised to see him pull out a moleskin notebook and jot something down. The current presentation seemed absolutely meaningless, despite the false enthusiasm of a few front row hand-raisers; what had I missed?

Then, he slid the note over so I could read it…

Abundant good humor: it’s what makes Marcus Fischer, Marcus Fischer. And it’s just another reason why Carmichael Lynch is in tremendous shape for the future: you’ve passed the reins to an adult with deep understanding, calm patience, and real love for this game. Good on you.

And congratulations Marcus–a proven president who will make an exceptional CEO.