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Agency Insights from a Real-Life Don Draper

Published: January 2, 2014

Author: Molly Shotwell

Though he never worked on anything outside of traditional print media, David Ogilvy’s name is ubiquitous in advertising. I’ve been taking some time to read his book On Advertising for personal enrichment, and I was struck by how applicable his advice to advertisers (written back in the early ’80s) is to a modern-day digital marketing agency.
David Ogilvy
Anyone who’s been through a holiday season at an agency (or in-house at an ecommerce company, for that matter) will agree that “what happens in agencies is enough to induce anxiety among the most phlegmatic people.”
The way that Ogilvy argues agencies solve the problem of requiring so many stressful hours is exactly the strategy employed here at 3Q Digital: “…make it fun to work at your agency… kill grimness with laughter. Encourage exuberance.”
Thankfully, the attitude here at 3Q Digital fosters exactly that. Everyone works hard, of course, but no one shies away from a joke or a casual conversation in the middle of the day.  Part of being an effective worker is being able to diffuse your own stresses and take a moment to shift your attention beyond the immediate task at hand.
So far, the best part of working in the digital marketing space has been the variety of clients. You can spend the better part of a day focusing on one particular account, then stretch your brain to fit different needs. It’s a blessing and a curse of course, as Ogilvy explains: “…you pay a price for this variety. Every time you see a client, you have to be sufficiently briefed on his business to give relevant advice.”
Luckily, we work in an industry where methods and functions of marketing are literally available anywhere. On one hand, you’ve got the incredibly difficult job of keeping up on the trends in an industry that can (and will) change daily. On the other, you have to stay in tune with the specific needs of your client. Complicate this with the possibility of having multiple clients… and you can see how you pay the price for the interesting variety.
Few people walk into the door for the first time knowing exactly how to deal with everything that’s going to be tasked to them. That’s why agencies have training programs in which new employees sit in on an account and learn through osmosis. Truly, the best position for an agency to adopt is: “as in teaching hospitals, their top people devote an enormous amount of time to teaching the interns.” Terminology aside, bringing your fellows up to your level does nothing but strengthen the position of everyone around you.
While training is integral to the success of an agency, the hiring process can be just as pivotal. Bringing in the right person,  or type of people, is extremely important.
“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.”
Has anyone else read Ogilvy’s work, or perhaps drawn some inspiration from an unlikely source? Let us know in the comments!

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