Industry Influencers: Michael Scantlebury

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Independent ad agency Impero was founded by Michael Scantlebury in 2009 as an innovative, risk-taking challenger to the big networks.

The company recently reported a negative pay gap, with women being paid 3% more than men on average, while its median pay gap came out at 1% in favour of women. The results are impressive, considering Impero is 77% female with an all-female creative department and four out of six departments run by women.

Below, Scatlebury delves deeper into the agency's values and ideals as well as offering thoughts on the wider industry landscape.


What makes your company unique?

The people. Our 35 Imperians are a wonderful bunch who come together to have fun, make great work and return tired brands to fame and glory, day after day. They are considered more family than a team.

How would you describe your current strategy and how it aligns with the wider current landscape?

We’re small, nimble and agile. We take on the bigger players by punching way above our weight in the work we make, and the pitch lists we get on. We don’t buy into the myth that having a big multi-discipline conglomerate is the way to make great work.

Nor do we believe in putting short-term metrics before real brand-building, culture-penetrating work. We focus on generating real results for our clients and their bottom-line sales, over the long term.

How has your client list changed over the past year and what’s the secret to winning new business?

It’s just growing – we’re pushing into more categories and disciplines because our clients are realising what we do is less about what you make and more about the consumers you sell to. The secret to new business is profile. People can’t buy something they don’t know exists.

How important is company culture?

Very important. Knowing and trusting each other and working as a team is everything in advertising. Having a happy, healthy team who have time and energy for their own lives is also important. That’s why we prioritise our flexi working hours, meditation club, running club and regular team parties.

How do you deal with things when they go wrong?

It’s important to remember 90% of the shit that happens to you is out of your control. Just keep going.

What do you believe makes a company successful and why? What is it that’s made you successful?

Drive – because I personally think I’m not as talented as most people – but I can outwork them.

How important is the right type of talent?

Talent is everything in this business. Culture matters, and it’s important to find the right fit when hiring. But we work hard to create an environment which is a fair reflection of the outside world and which doesn’t look like the typical advertising agency.

What advice would you give to someone with aims of becoming a creative leader?

Find bright people to work with, get out of their way and let them do their thing.

What do you see for the future of the industry and where does your company fit into that?

My prediction for 2019: more big agencies embroiled in scandal, more big agencies losing money to in-housing, more need for small, nimble independent shops and more talent jumping ship for progressive businesses – which is very good for Impero.


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