Opinions - The sensory overload inside American ad agencies


by John Fountain 

*During my career I've had to come up with ideas in all sorts of shabby environments. For a year I worked out of a garage in Paddington. While in Singapore my office was on the second floor of a very dodgy shopping precinct.

And during the 80s I was forced, along with the entire UK advertising industry, to put pen to paper in a number of down at heel drinking establishments.

So when people say that the spaces in which we work have a direct effect on creativity and productivity, I tend to raise a questionable eyebrow. Most of my inspirational moments, and yes, there have been some dear reader, almost always happen out of office and away from the desk. The office itself has played very little part in the process.

I seem to be a rarity. These days creative offices are more like cathedrals for devine inspiration, some of them glowing like nuclear reactors in the night. But how much inspiration do we need and at what stage does it simply become sensory overload?

Over in the US they don't do things by half. And when it comes to the design and layout of a trendy ad agency - it's not so much about it looking cool but more to do with creating impact. And the bigger the impact, the better.

Don't get me wrong, I'd rather be working somewhere that's a bit off the wall than staring at the back side of a grey wall all day. And I agree that interiors needed to be original and exciting to reflect the creative nature of the company's work.

But you can take this too far? Recently Ad Age has been taking a peek inside a number of top US creative agencies, and by golly, the offices have had a make over even Laurence Llewelyn Bowen would be proud. Here's what they found...

Over at Red Tettemer & Partners they have a rock band room. Fancy toilet seats. A chopper bike attached to a wall. A penthouse. An arsenal of weaponry for interactive people. A coffee table that weighs 3000lbs. And much, much more. Steve Red, Founder of Red Tettemer & Partners, (and a very small dog) provide the tour and explain the thinking.

A gong. A kitchen where the magic happens. A personality wall for every employee. Awards neatly stored in a trash can. Free cereal and the obligatory basketball net . Joel Idelson, SVP of Allen & Gerritsen, is your tour guide around this all action hi fivin Boston office

5 office dogs. (6 depending on the day). Green croc shoes for women with heels. Porsche rims on the mantlepiece. And a ceiling that's well.. not just any old ceiling. Let Anne Bologna, Cramer-Krasselt New York's general manager, take you around their glorious Manhattan office and offer you a seat by the water cooler.

John Fountain is a copywriter.
Twitter: @fountainjohn

Visit John Fountain's website


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