A recent interview with a very nice guy called Aaron Bateman - he's a British copywriter that works at Danish Agency Advance. He's in the middle of a project - Agency Future - to research and develop a point of view on what the agency of the future might look like. He's been touring the world pulling together profiles on everyone from the likes of Wieden+Kennedy, BBH, Made by Many and Anomaly NY. He's presenting his findings here. His interview with me for Antidote is here (or below).
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Antidote is committed to ‘creating communication ideas that gain momentum in the real world’. It’s a principle that has manifested itself in brand-building successes such as Rapha’s pop-up cycle cafes in New York and London, and the massive-selling ‘Change the World for a Fiver‘ book for We Are What We Do.
I met with Managing Partner Henry Chilcott to learn more about the five-year-old agency and we followed up our meeting with an email exchange, which is what you see here.
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What was the thinking behind Antidote?
The exciting thing about our industry is that it exposes us to a multitude of different businesses and business models. You can learn a lot if you listen – it’s an industry that should feed and encourage curiosity and open-mindedness.
Yet, though no two business challenges are ever the same, the vast majority of solutions that come out of advertising agencies are advertising shaped. Given the talent in our industry, that’s just weird – brilliant strategic and creative minds dancing on a pinhead.
So Antidote was created to be an antidote to this approach. Of course advertising can be part of the answer but it’s never where we start. We find this allows our conversations with clients to be more real, more ambitious and more rewarding.
What did the founders feel was lacking in a traditional agency’s offering that they thought they could deliver?
Freedom to apply creative thinking to our client’s businesses, as opposed to simply their advertising.
Do you have beliefs or a philosophy? Can you outline it…
The more open-minded you are with your creativity, the more likely you’ll get to a breakthrough communications idea.
We also have a theory that the ability to buy audiences through paying a third party for media space has made agencies lazy. It’s why there’s so much average stuff out there. Therefore we always aim to create communications that can gain momentum in the real world – ie. stuff that people want in their lives.
What’s your take on agencies’ efforts to meet the challenges of the disruption brought about by the internet?
As with any communication, the challenge is to ensure we’re creating stuff for the right reasons – ie. truly answering (or creating) a consumer desire or need. The internet and the technology that connects us to it has opened a billion opportunities.
The problem is that (often) a low barrier to entry means few brands stop to consider properly when they should be there and, more importantly, in what form.
Strip it down and the internet serves a basic human desire – it connects us to stuff. But, it also offers us more control than ever before. So the challenge is to create ideas that people want to connect to, ideas that enhance lives.
Enhance is a good word – and one that’s often ignored – which is why there are so many ghost-town websites littering the web.
Made By Many have a great expression (which nicely sums up how the web should be used) – they ‘make stuff out of the internet’. I like the inference of this – they don’t place stuff on the internet (in the loose hope that people will interact) they harness its power, sometimes twisting it out of its frame, and create products and services that engage and excite. The success of any digital campaign is its ability to draw in, curate (and sometimes monetize) a community – to do this you need to build stuff that has value to that community.
How do you see Antidote evolving?
In two ways:
- More joint ventures – something we call The New IP – or ‘Intellectual Partnerships’ with our clients. Shared risk and shared reward will always lead to a more balanced relationship.
- Scaling up what we already do whilst staying true to our philosophy (the toughest challenge we face as a business.)
What would you say differentiates you from other similar-sized agencies?
We have a philosophy and approach that we’ve stuck to. This means we can genuinely back it up through our body of work.
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