Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The Difference St Luke's made

The attached film has no voice-over, so it's slightly haunting and it also made me think...

There was a debate a while back on Scamp about St Luke’s contribution to ad history where several people put up a rigorous defence of the creative work. Looking around the industry right now I think St Luke’s may have had an effect on something beyond creative work - the ad agency as a place of work.

The various ambitions of St Luke’s impacted directly upon the nature of the workplace. We wanted to a flat hierarchy so there were no flash corner offices; we wanted to be co-creative so there were no department floors; we wanted to put clients at the centre of the business so each client had their own brand room; we wanted to collaborate with everyone so we had multi-disciplinary project teams; we were a co-operative and wanted everyone to have a say in the running of the company so the culture of the agency and the working environment was the responsibility of an elected staff group called The Quest and not the management. We summed our workplace philosophy up with the slogan Change The Way You Work, Change the Way You Think and to help us constantly change the way we worked we were early pioneers of hot-desking and remote working. The effect of so much innovation was a culture which was creative and chaotic and inspiring and confusing in equal measure but, above all else, it created a fun and exciting place to work, which is why we consistently won best workplace awards.

Looking around the industry there seems to be a type of agency where there reputation as a good place to work is as important as there work. If you look at the blogs and promo films for places like Karmarama, Love in Manchester and Iris, they all feel just a little bit like St Luke’s.

St Luke’s may not have quite achieved the launch ambition to be the “ad agency to end all ad agencies” by “changing the DNA of business” but maybe we did open the door for agencies to be something other than creative dictatorships or military-style organisations.


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