The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Who Should You Choose: Brand Or Boss?
March 11, 2011, 6:25 am
Filed under: Comment

So someone weirdly wanted my advice about which agency to work for.

While I appreciate why someone would think that’s the way to approach the task, I have to say I think it’s the wrong way to go.

Sure, there are some agencies that are built on very strong values and principles – BBH, W+K, Mother etc etc – however that still doesn’t mean it’s the place for you which is why I would always advocate finding the boss rather than finding the company.

That might sound much more difficult to do – not to mention be much harder work – however given this would be someone who you would be spending the majority of your time working for/with, surely you’d want to make sure they’re someone who can inspire you, educate you & push you?

For me, a boss should be someone who leads and inspires by example … someone who has been-there, done-that … someone who wants to give you exposure and focus, not just problems or workload … which is why as much as working for one of the ‘cool agencies’ might sound great, it’s never as good as having a boss who will take you to places you didn’t even know existed.

Good job my team work for a great agency or they’d be fucked.

72 Comments so far
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same applies with education: don’t choose the subject, choose the lecturer; don’t choose the uni, choose the phd supervisor; don’t choose the art, choose the sensei.

Comment by lauren

nicole kidman and catherine zeta jones did the same thing. they didnt choose the looks they chose the fame & bank balance.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by Rob

the fact bbh, w+k and mother have all wanted you to fucking work for them shows even the best agencies can make the worst of fucking decisions so you make a wise fucking call for once by saying you should always choose your job based on who your boss is going to be. but there are some exceptions to that fucking rule and that is:

1) youre offered obscene amounts of moolah. like real “fuck you” cash and so a year from now you can tell them all to go fuck themselves and piss off and buy an island filled with victorias secret models.

2) you have dirt on a ceo or a client.

3) the boss you like is one of the fucking idiots who thought campbell was worth hiring at some point in history.

your colleagues have my deepest fucking sympathies.

ps) nice pre alcoholic/death photo of cloughie.

Comment by andy@cynic

It’s all down to the drugs I put in their water cooler before I went to see them Andy. You shouldn’t be so hard on them, it worked on you!

Comment by Rob

to the person who asked campbell for advice, thats the first sign youre not going to make it in this industry. the feedbacks right, the person who gave it you absofuckinglutely isnt.

Comment by andy@cynic

I disagree. I think its grand advice & that person will do just fine thank you very much.

Comment by Jessica Brookes

God bless you. It’ll fall on deaf ears, but god bless you all the same, ha!

Comment by Rob

and another thing campbell, surely the main requirement you have for a boss is that theyre fucking gullible.

enough of this shit, im going to booze.

Comment by andy@cynic

Is the bloke behind the bloke at the front of the photo having a heart attack? Why is the bloke at the front not helping him? Is that the sort of boss you’re saying we should be looking for? It’s the sort of boss I had when I was working with you guys. Until Rob ruined it for everyone.

Comment by Billy Whizz

you fucking adored it, it was like being given free bdm and we all know how much you pay for that dont we, you fucking pervert.

youre right though, campbell ruined it like he ruins everyones lives. hes a life killer. campbell the life killer. it even has a certain kind of ring to it. how fucking sick is that.

it was a bad week to give up the meths.

Comment by andy@cynic

You wouldn’t understand Billy … your lot still go on about Babe fucking Ruth!

Comment by Rob

be fair campbell, billy doesnt, the only thing he goes on about is the latest release of girls gone wild, the closest the poor fucker ever gets to a girl gone wild.

Comment by andy@cynic

Both our wives are away – so maybe our balls have temporarily grown back?

Comment by Rob

that is the only fucking possible answer.

Comment by andy@cynic

A certain environment breeds certain behavior. Form follows function. The boss, the output, the clients and all your colleagues are the brand. On the other hand, finding the ‘right boss’ means networking, making ‘friends’ and working around boring application procedures. To each their own.

Comment by Evolution

Hi Evolution – I completely disagree with your view that to find the right boss means networking, making ‘friends’ etc. From my perspective, finding the right boss is about identifying who you feel is doing [or is part of the team doing] good things and then making sure you do enough of your own stuff to hopefully stand out.

Sure, there are times/opportunities where you can make some sort of acquaintance with a particular person – but that should be only because you want to show them what you’re capable of doing – however you imply [though I accept maybe that wasn’t your intention] that it’s all about who you know and not what you do and if that’s the kind of boss people want, then they get what they deserve.

Comment by Rob

first auntie george and now campbell goes dirty harry. what the fuck is it with planners this week?

Comment by andy@cynic

You might want to tell me how finding the right person and standing out is then achieved.

Of course, it is all about who you know. Always has been, always will. That is why there are application procedures in place to make it all less of a friending game and more objective as a starting point.

Someone remembers Sam Ism**l? A person who made sure he stood out.

Comment by Evolution

I have no idea what your current circumstances are Evolution – I don’t even know your gender, mainly because you want to keep all that private – and while that is your prerogative, I have to say that I am starting to think I know why you choose to do that because far too often your comments come across as if you’re saying “you’re right, everyone else is wrong” and while I am sure/hope that is not what you intend, it’s not doing you any favours.

You are wrong to say that it is always who you know – by stating that, you imply everyone who has moved up the ladder has achieved it simply through connections rather than hard work, action and quantifiable results and that is obviously rubbish … and as for your claim the reason for an ‘application process’ is to create some sort of objective review for possible hires is also open to major questions.

Like you said, maybe the people who have advised you in the past have done a shit job so here’s something that I hope will be more useful – and is being said because I don’t want you to miss out on opportunities because you simply are saying good things, the wrong way.

Stop sounding like the World is against you and that the only person is right is you. You’re not. No one is right all the time and by failing to acknowledge there are always different viewpoints undermines all your valid thoughts and opinions. Look, I’m all for people having strong views and beliefs but to dismiss any counter comment is neither sensible or productive … and while you might not mean for it to come across that way, I’m telling you it does.

As I said, I’m not saying this to fuck you off – I’m saying it because you sound fucked off and I genuinely don’t want that to be the case and maybe [just maybe] one of the reasons you sound like you’ve had a lot of frustrations is because some of the people you’ve met may feel the same way as me.

If you want to talk about this – and I promise it’ll be just between me and you – email me, I’d be happy to chat.

Comment by Rob

dont take it personally evolution, hes like this to every fucker.

Comment by andy@cynic

Oh well, I have my opinions. Opinions I hold until I get convinced to alter them. Naturally, that does not work by just telling me that I am wrong, but with sound reason and arguments. I have friends who ask me for advice and tell me ‘why do you always make sense?’ or ‘you should go into politics’ and that they are glad to have me as a friend. They would never say this if I would just dismiss counter arguments and viewpoints or if I just wanted to be right all the time.

“[Y]ou imply everyone who has moved up the ladder has achieved it simply through connections rather than hard work, action and quantifiable results”. I imply that connections are important and there is no way you could say they aren’t, sorry. I never said application procedures are perfect, they aren’t, far from it, but they are in place to ensure the person with the best skills and experience gets ahead. Whereas networking is about sympathy from the start.

I might email you and we could chat about this over the weekend. What’s you address? Did I just stand out? Oh yes, I am lovely.


Not taking anything personal is essential. Something that I incorporated a very long time ago.

Comment by Evolution

youre fucking hilarious evolution. you sound like some tone deaf twat on American idol who complains hes been voted off by saying “but my mum says i sing like an angel”.

heres campbell, some big wig fucking planner whose done more interesting shit than most, offering to help you out and you act like some surly fucking teenager.

hes told you what youre doing wrong, hes given you sound fucking reason and tough fucking love so why dont you stop answering back, accept you could do with the help and thank your lucky fucking stars hes not told you to fuck off like everyone else would.

Comment by andy@cynic

Even Billy doesn’t miss the point like this guy.

Comment by DH

The reason was that I am wrong and that I should not talk in the open anymore. Now, you are telling me to fuck off. Hilarious. Bye.


You are welcome.

Comment by Evolution

I think your comment just proved Rob’s comment.

Comment by DH

It sure has. Case closed.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Thanks evolution.

Comment by Billy Whizz

youre mother will be so fucking proud. not proud, just fucking relieved.

Comment by andy@cynical

You know what Evolution, I’m quite a nice guy – I like to help people – but even after I tell you something in the spirit of genuine advice, you come back and basically throw it in my face.

That’s your choice, that’s fine – but it doesn’t make me want to do anything else for you and while this comment might make you revert back to your “everyone is against me” schtick, the reality is you’re doing a lot of this to yourself.

I don’t like writing this – in fact it upsets me – because in all the years I’ve written this blog, I’ve never felt so compelled to write such a comment about someone, despite the fact I’ve been inundated with different views/thoughts and perspectives from all manner of people.

You say you “might” want to talk?

Well when you can fit me in to your busy diary, let me know because until then, I can’t be bothered … and for the record, yes you did ‘stand out’ but sadly it’s for all the wrong reasons – which was the point I was trying to help you with in the first place.

Comment by Rob

youve been more fucking patient with him/her than any other fucker would be so it had to be said.

main problem is evolutions definition of sound reasoning. theyre either operating at a much higher level of intelligence than the rest of us fuckers or theyre just a blind twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

Don’t want this to become some name calling exercise Andy. Evolution obviously has a different view about things to the rest of us [or at least me] but I’m not going to keep listening to someone say or imply my opinion has no validity just because they have an alternative perspective.

Offered to chat, they weren’t sure they wanted to. Fair enough.

Comment by Rob

i find it fucking funny how youre so accomodating to people on this blog when at work you are an impatient and demanding bastard who wont suffer twats for a nano second.

another reason why i fucking hate technology.

Comment by andy@cynic

And I find it funny how you’re so antagonistic to people on this blog when at work you’re nurturing, insightful and more of a planner than many planners I know.

I should use the past tense given you are now a building contractor.

Comment by Rob


and im not a fucking building contractor, im the bank for the building contractor and theyre always fucking withdrawing.

now fuck this, any news on your japan mates? have you even been to bed? dont mistake this as caring, theyre just fucking questions.

Comment by andy@cynic

Tried calling you but you’re engaged. Ring me when you’re free and I’ll update you.

Comment by Rob

Who do you think you are? This is a genuine question. Albeit a rhetorical one.

Do you think I need or want advice, about what by the way, from someone who cannot handle an argument and opposing viewpoints? Accusing me of exactly this and throwing whatever back in your face. You even accuse me that I’m implying your opinion has no validity – because I am having alternative perspectives. And you tell me I always want to be right.
I said I “might” want to talk, because you generously offered me to chat when I don’t even know how to contact you. You just wanted me to shut up and thus helping yourself. For the reasons, see the first sentences of this comment. I’ve said it before on this blog to your buddy andy: Why don’t you just stop projecting and twisting my words around. But this does not matter anymore as I surely won’t waste my time in this echo chamber anymore.

Comment by Evolution

and as i fucking said, you sound like some sad twat contestant from american idol who cant handle the truth. grow up cry baby.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m not going to even bother responding to your comment Evolution but here’s my email: rob at cynical-world dot com.

What happens next is up to you.

Comment by Rob

Funny how all this talk of projection is coming from someone commenting under a pseudonym.

Comment by DH

I have read and re-read your comments and feel they also come across in the way Robert has stated.
Before you claim that means I too must be projecting or reinterpreting, you should know I have a degree in psychology from Stanford so can categorically inform you that I am not.
Communication without visual anchors adversely affects interpretation so this thread could be the result of a giant misunderstanding between the 2 of you but as an observer, I have to say the turns of phrase you have been using throughout your correspondence feels aggressive and that is why I can understand if could give the impression, intentional or otherwise, that you were someone who had difficulty accepting other people’s views.
I am very glad to hear that is not the case, but you must appreciate it is difficult for people to gauge the meaning of someone’s words when they are so protective of revealing their true identity.
This comment is not meant to upset, it is to calm.

Comment by George

fucking spoilsport.

and stop giving the impression your degree came from stanford. we all know you ordered it online because if you were that fucking clever, you wouldnt have gone into business with campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

Evolution asks Rob, “Who do you think you are?” Don’t they see the irony of that statement when they literally won’t say who they really are. Classic commenting.

Comment by Billy Whizz

so youve resorted to copying the comments of others. its got that fucking bad has it.

Comment by andy@cynic

and why the fuck are so many people on this shithole on a saturday night? i have an excuse, what the fuck is yours.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by Billy Whizz

Unless I’m 5 and going to a birthday party, it’s too early to be out. The World might revolve around you but time doesn’t.

Comment by Billy Whizz

well it fucking should. now read daves comment somewhere above yours and see why im calling you the milli vanilli of comments.

Comment by andy@cynic

He copied me, he just typed it faster.

@George: Pulling out the qualifications to make a sarcastic comment? Who are you and what have you done to our Auntie G. Forget about it, you’re much better.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Nottingham Forest 0

Comment by john

No, we won that one actually John and I was there. Of course, we’ve lost pretty much every one after that, but that’s something I don’t really want to comment on thank you very much.

Comment by Rob

I think Rob is so right and evolution so wrong, next he’ll be saying you should plan on how to go viral. Form follows function unless it doesn’t. I knew I had made the right decision at one time in my career when everyone questioned what I was doing but the boss of bosses (still my, and a great many other people’s god) said “You are either the smartest or the most foolhardy person I know, go ahead.” I like to think he was right on both counts. And people like him are not hard to spot, just hard to get to work with. But, then, sometimes you get lucky.

Comment by Ciaran McCabe

wonder if evolutions comment is from personal experience? i sense bitterness and resentment or theyve been getting shit advice from shit people.

Comment by andy@cynic

Next I’ll be saying that you clearly do not understand the concept of “form follows function”.

Comment by Evolution


Of course, I speak from personal experience. I have seen absolute idiots who couldn’t tell left from right getting jobs. Because they were friends with certain people.

I clearly got advice that really should not be called like that.

Comment by Evolution

If you work for the right boss, you often find the right companies come and get you.

Comment by Bazza

fucking worked in your case didnt it mr fucking rich beyond your height.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by Bazza


Comment by andy@cynic

You’ve had so many users in your life haven’t you Andy.

Comment by Rob

I wholeheartedly agree. You have to work with someone you like, respect and all the rest of it. The culture of the place can only make the environment work for you, the drive and stimulation to produce something big comes from you and the ones around you. The principles/values of a place acts as a petri dish but what you put in is more important. Also if the boss is hot it is a bonus.

More importantly, reading Andy’s comments made me slip into depression since I did work with a great/right boss but I am not “rich beyond my height” (and I am not very tall).

Comment by swati

In Bazza’s case, you also have to be a cheeky bastard … and more specifically, a cheeky bastard to a business icon, namely Steve Jobs.

Then – and only then – do you stand a chance of being rich beyond your dreams, so don’t feel too bad. Plus Baz was/is a freak – both in terms of talent and cheekiness.

Comment by Rob

so monday comes the flipside post?

agencies: when to choose the papers or the person?

just to complete the picture, as HR is often (with account management, but let’s not go PSFK bashing on the first friday of Lent) much talked about but underused as a great way to create value

Comment by niko

Agree completely. You could work for the best agency in the world, but if your boss is a c***, it wouldn’t matter. You wouldn’t learn.


Comment by Will

I argue the best agency in the world would never employ c***s.

Comment by Evolution

Thanks for sticking to the “rules”.

Comment by Rob

Sorry but that’s not entirely true either, Evo. Being “the best” can often breed arrogance, and that can one of the most c***y traits going around.

Comment by Age

You are right, Age. The best are the best because of certain things. Arrogance and hubris are none of them.

Comment by Evolution

[…] self-absorbed individuals in this industry), shared his thoughts on whether you should choose where to work or who to work for. His point is that you should pick the boss, not the […]

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Comment by Omar Ravenhurst

[…] past Friday, Rob shared a good piece of advice for those considering joining a new agency. In particular, I like how he phrased this bit: […]

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[…] course that shouldn’t be the only reason you choose a job, but seeing how they present themselves to others is possibly the quickest way to see what reality […]

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