Thursday, 13 September 2007
Star Stories: Jonathan Rigby
Our fourth star story comes courtesy of Jonathan Rigby, a Founding Partner at LOVE Creative. Within the industry, Jonathan has had a wide range of experiences at London agencies, before moving northwards to Manchester and setting up LOVE. Their agency blog can be found here.
SOMETIMES BRIBERY PAYS OFF
by Jonathan Rigby
I joined the industry as an Account Executive. I’ve been a Board Director at WCRS, a New Business Director at Lowe and a Managing Director at FCB London. I’m now a partner in a fast expanding “new model agency” called LOVE in Manchester.
To get into advertising, I sent £5 notes as bribes to 10 London agencies figuring they’d feel humbled into replying to my letter in order to return the cash of an impoverished student. It worked. I got 10 replies and 9 fivers back (the cheeky gits at an agency called Arc kept my fiver!) and a work placement at WCRS. I spent the summer there doing anything I could volunteer for.
I wasn’t over-bearing and annoyingly over-enthusiastic (as far as I remember), just polite, quite quiet and keen and I made sure I did everything as thoroughly and professionally as I could. I spent days and nights writing, typing and binding a report for a pitch and Robin Wight (founder and chairman) liked it. Robin remembered me a year later when I applied for a full time job and my advertising career started. Four grads were recruited that year. Giles was sharp and very funny. Lorella was loud and great fun. Alison was really professional and intelligent. And they hired me too.
The point is, not all agencies hire a “type” of person. Like putting a boy/girl band together, they’re looking for a mix of people, so be yourself and don’t take it personally if you get a rejection from one agency. You might be the perfect fit for the next. The first year or so was about learning, listening and doing as much as I possibly could. As a grad in 1991, you certainly knew your place and ruthless, blind ambition was frowned upon. Have things changed? Is it the done thing to be in a rush to be a Board Director nowadays? Do grads tolerate the requests to make the tea, write the contact report, keep a wallet full of twenties and run across busy roads for the cab?
I learnt to become an indispensable member of my team. I asked questions. I tried not to be annoying and arrogant. I wasn’t in too much of a rush to get ahead. I was in London and I was 21 – concentrating too much on work would have wasted the most hedonistic years of my life. When you start in an agency, you might think that no-one ever notices you or is too busy to be thinking about or discussing how you’re progressing. Wrong!
You’ll be talked about by everyone because you’re new and you’ll be being judged for your contribution to the culture of the agency. Positively or negatively. Oh and make sure you make genuine friends with the most important people to you in the agency – the person who orders couriers, the post room, the edit suite, the person in charge of petty cash, the finance department, junior creatives, traffic and production, the security guards, secretaries (do agencies still have secretaries?), the cleaners.
This will quadruple your ability to get things done against all the odds in your formative years. You need these people. But it will also teach you the importance of being civil, polite, nice and never to burn bridges in such a small industry where everyone knows everyone, reputations are quickly made and memories are long.