I Will Kill Your Agency Dog

Nothing gets me more fired up than the “extraordinary lengths” that some creative marketing firms go to to express just how amazingly creative they are – but aren’t. And the one that gets my goat the most is putting your damn dog on the staff list.

It’s Tired, and so Am I.

So as you can imagine already, I’ve got a bit of a bone to pick with my tribe. And to lay it all out there – I love dogs. I’m even a fan of dogs at work. But I regularly joke around the office that I’d like to start an “agency dog crematory”, or mount ones I’ve personally killed on the wall – stuffed – as my campaign to end the embarrassment this trend has brought to the creative world.

But before I get too far along, some of you might not know what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is the trend of creative agencies putting pets on the staff list as the “Head of Good Vibes”, or “Director of Wet Kisses” or some other jackass name that puts a cherry on top of the whole premise.  You got to be frippin’ kidding me.

Can you imagine the conversation at that meeting?

“Ah yeah, we need to put our staff on the page so people can see our names, because we are pretty important, you know.”

“Yeah, and everyone loves fido, so let’s put him on there as Director of Fun Times!”

Crowd erupts into hugs and high fives while the college intern posts, “I’ve made an #internship #mistake” to her instagram page.

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The whole premise of people putting your dog on the staff page must have started as some kind of funny, quirky move by an actually brilliant creative a decade ago. And for that one firm, for that one time and place – it was gold. I bet it won them some serious business.

But for the rest of you – it’s awful. It’s a concept that is so tired, even non-creative businesses are doing it. So why in the world are you still doing it by the droves? I’ll tell you why. Because you don’t know how to position yourself, and you desperately want to.

An Alternative to Fido.

So now that I’ve personally called out about 1 in every 4 creative agencies in the US with a swift kick to the squeaky toy, I’ll propose an alternative.

The reason many of you have fallen into this trap is because you are desperately trying to find a way to express your culture, yourself, and how you might actually be unique to your potential customer. Dogs on the staff list was a good intention with a bad reaction.

The right way to do this is with positioning. Positioning your firm is going to take about three to six months and you need to buy every piece of content or consulting you can from these two men: David C. Baker and Blair Enns.

I can give personal testimony from attending a few of their events and digesting a small amount of the content they have, and it has revolutionized our firm. Twice. 

I could sit here and regurgitate all I’ve gleaned from them, but it would be free consulting – and if I paid for it, so should you. But the point is, if you’ve come this far and you need some real direction on positioning your firm, spend the time and the money and do it well.

Don’t Get Angry, Get More Creative

I know we can be sensitive as creatives, so I’d ask you to take a step back and consider my plea. Drop the dog, pick up the positioning. Go for something greater than just a weird, quirky, creative vibe. Vibes are not creative. And our clients really don’t care how creative you are, they care how creative you are for them.

Stop making it about you, and make it about them. Tell them how you will serve them. You are better than what you show. Go further and get more creative in grabbing their attention.

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