Global Domination in the Age of Boutique Advertising Agencies

By John Matejczyk

A few years ago, I was asked to speak at Cannes on the New Agency Showcase, and share thoughts about being young and independent, working with clients who want to do great work.

The series host, Julian Boulding of The Network One, introduced the speakers with a riff on how much more successful independent agencies like ours were at Cannes, pound for pound. So here we were on a global stage, with global clients, talking about independent agencies and their prowess.

Which raises an important question; how does an independent agency take on global advertising work?

Funny thing is, the hardest part is still the hardest part: developing a powerful campaign platform that is right for the brand, and resonant with the market. If you’re looking for a global agency, your primary criteria should continue to be what drives your decisions about a national agency; who are the people who can crack the conceptual code?

The rest are details. Albeit, important details.

Sitting in San Francisco, we’ve had the opportunity to create global campaigns. The answer to how it’s done is as diverse as clients’ needs.

One resource we can use is the above-mentioned Network One, a global consortium of independent agencies. We are able to call on each other for any help we need, anywhere in the world, knowing we’ll be working with other great independent agencies.

Another way that works well with us is by interfacing directly with clients who have global oversight. We’ve created work that has run on four continents for clients, across many languages. For them, we were particularly clear in style guides––articulating the idea with universal reasoning.

Finally, transcreation has come a long way. Rather than simply translating, we’ll translate and then see back-translations so we can make sure that, beyond just an accurate translation, we’re getting one that captures the spirit of the work.

We love pulling big levers for big brands. And more than ever, that means crossing borders.