Throughout my career I’ve enjoyed finding new ways to communicate the stories of some of the world’s leading entertainment and consumer brands from launching PlayStation3 to kicking a record company’s prized back catalogue into the digital era or creating brand and technology partnerships to make a cable company synonymous with entertainment, not utility. The interesting stuff has always sat at the intersection of entertainment, media and advertising, and my role at DRUM is no different.
There is no typical week at DRUM, but, as the leader of a creative business, there are four constants that are pervasive from week to week and month to month, and typically where I try and find a balance in how I spend my time every day. Creative, clients, commercials and culture – from what we do to who we do it for, how it pays back and most importantly, what we stand for and how we empower our people – it’s a constantly changing dynamic and it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning each day.
Let’s explore this in more detail.
DRUM is not a traditional creative agency. There is a huge scope to our work from creating global social campaigns for the likes of Kingfisher and Jura Whisky to showstopping Christmas campaigns for major retailers, in addition to brand strategy and media partnerships.
Creativity that earns attention is the common thread that runs through all our work, but the one thing we particularly focus on is creating work that drives long term effectiveness for clients. Our role is to seek out non-traditional solutions by leveraging culture to help brands connect with their audiences in a real, relevant and authentic way.
You see far too many brands trying to shoehorn themselves into pop culture or jump on the back of cultural movements that just don’t fit in with the brand, ultimately producing campaigns that lack authenticity and relevancy to the audience.
For any agency, clients are the life blood of the business. I like to be hands on with our clients, working directly with our fabulous client teams to ensure that not only are we producing best in class work, but also anticipating any future needs before they arise.
The key to client relationships is trust. As an agency, at times it is important to challenge your clients and push them into being brave and bold. However, this only comes from a place of trust – something that is earned and can never be taken for granted. Building that trust takes time.
From my experiences working client side, I always wanted an agency to work with me as a partner rather than a supplier, and this is what we strive to do at DRUM on a daily basis; be partners and consultants for our clients.
This year has been a big year of pitching and pitch wins. You learn so much through a pitch process and I think it’s important as an agency head to lead from the front. I love solving challenges for brands and highlighting how DRUM is uniquely positioned to do so. Pitches are something that gets the heart pumping slightly faster.
Over the past year, we have been very successful in building new client relationships and welcoming some world class brands across a variety of sectors to DRUM. I’ve personally spent a lot of time thinking how to unlock growth and also to make sure that as we welcome new clients to DRUM they get the attention, care and focus they need so we can help them get to brilliant, disruptive creative solutions quickly after onboarding.
We’ve also been rolling out DRUM across other markets over the last 18 months or so, and now have a growing network of offices in six markets – from Copenhagen to Auckland, New Zealand – and have further expansion planned over the coming months/year with a keen focus on APAC and China.
Culture at an agency is hugely important, and I am a big believer in that culture comes from the top as well as the bottom. The culture of an agency or any workplace is vital to the health of the business. You can have the most talented people in the world working at a business, but if the culture isn’t very good, the work will suffer.
Therefore, it is essential to build a culture that people want to be part of and thrive in. I am a huge believer of agile working, but there still needs to be a central core that people identify to. At the top it is about being receptive to the challenges the agency is facing, reminding people that the pressure they are feeling at a significant time won’t last forever.
What advice you’d give to someone starting their career in media?
Be open-minded, be bold and be clear – make your career work for you.
By Luke Southern, Managing Director, DRUM