And the award goes to….

Run your agency like a Hollywood producer.

Recently I got together with a few fellow agency owners to compare notes on pressing topics. Do you ask for a budget before making a proposal? What type of prospecting are you doing in this uncertain environment? What’s changed since Covid. How’s it going? Pricing? Expenses? How do you deal with proposals stuck in limbo?

Then the conversation switched HR stuff. Topics like: Hiring and retaining talent. Managing employees. Employee reviews. Performance plans. On-boarding. Firing. Building culture.

“I don’t have any of those issues,” I said. My agency runs on a Hollywood Model.”

Ears perked up. A what?

Here’s what I explained.

Imagine you are making a movie. Star Wars, for example. To create a galaxy far, far away — you need fantastical sets, elaborate costumes, creature workshops, animators, makeup artists, stunt men, costume designers to outfit a hundreds of Storm Troopers — as George Lucas did. You’d need digital designers to produce incredible special effects. Model makers to make miniatures then engineers to translate to ginormous sound stages. Hell, Lucas even brought a former Boeing illustrator on board to create 21 watercolor production paintings that were instrumental in visualizing and selling the concept.

Now imagine producing an Oscar winning epic like Lawrence of Arabia. It was mostly shot on location without fancy effects. It required 150 camels — and 450 horses. Plus, trainers who could teach them to fall safely. Then there were the medics needed to constantly patch up Peter O’Toole’s saddle-sore bleeding butt. Talk about logistics.

These vastly different productions required vastly different teams including lighting, electrical, carpenters, makeup, hair, wardrobe, set design, prop stylists, editing and so on.

So, what exactly is a Hollywood model?

Adam Davidson, Co-founder of NPR’s “Planet Money” described it in the NYTimes “What Hollywood Can Teach Us about The Future of Work” like this: “A project is identified, a team is assembled, it works together for precisely as long as is needed to complete the task, and then…the team disbands.” They come together for a set period of time and then go their separate ways. They may or may not ever work together again. It’s the antithesis of a corporate model.

At insurgents.io, we assemble Oscar-worthy teams based upon the client, category and assignment. We can tap into our network of strategists, marketers, graphic designers, product formulators, packaging engineers, web designers and developers depending on what’s needed.

For example, when we created GeoGirl Cosmetics for Walmart, we needed a product developer to formulate our tween-appropriate beauty. Maria, with her years of experience at Estée Lauder and a variety of indie makeup brands was our natural go-to. Dan, a Cover Girl vet, knew just how to manufacture sustainable packaging at a great price. We tapped beauty-vet, Susan H for PR and our Social Media campaign. Sixteen-year-old, former Disney star, Kennedy was drafted to write a poppy, theme song. Chris, a true whizz at kids, came on board to build an interactive website. The right people for the job.

Instead of drawing from the agency’s usual suspects — a fixed talent pool of staffers — who might work on toys one day and tech the next — these giggers tend to be specialists in a particular field — beauty or banking, health care or hospitality, CBD or CPG. They can swoop in with super skills based on the job to do their magic.

Now, I’m not equating a branding project with making a major motion picture — but a Hollywood model has many advantages.

✔ — Clients don’t get “cookie cutter” thinking or an “agency” style — but a truly, personalized client-centric solution.

✔ — Nobody gets stale sitting around bitching while waiting to be called up.

✔ — Specialists are up to speed on the latest technologies because they’re out there learning day after day.

✔ — Everyone is freelance so there’s no excessive overhead to inflate fees. A boon as we head into recession-land.

✔ — The team tends to be nimble, fast-moving and agile — able to adapt as the project needs jig and jag.

Of course, it’s not glitch-free.

Occasionally, a prima donna enters stage left and causes a kerfuffle. But that can happen in any situation.

Building a roster of Red-Carpet worthy talent in diverse disciplines and verticals takes time. Our A-list has been years in the making.

Because talent is on to the next, the person you want may not be available for a future project.

And while some may bemoan the absence of building strong company culture, I find the fresh energy is inspiring.

Is it for everyone?

No.

Some clients prefer — and need — the structure of a more traditional approach with layers of support staff.

But if you’re someone who like to move fast, unencumbered by bureaucracy and politics, is audacious and courageous, come join us.

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