“Fire and wind come from the sky, from the gods of the sky. But Crom is your god, Crom and he lives in the earth. Once, giants lived in the Earth, Conan. And in the darkness of chaos, they fooled Crom, and they took from him the enigma of steel. Crom was angered. And the Earth shook. Fire and wind struck down these giants, and they threw their bodies into the waters, but in their rage, the gods forgot the secret of steel and left it on the battlefield. We who found it are just men. Not gods. Not giants. Just men. The secret of steel has always carried with it a mystery. You must learn its riddle, Conan. You must learn its discipline. For no one – no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts. [Points to sword] This you can trust. ” -Conan’s Father

Anyone getting into the creative business will most notably learn about the big three first, WPP, Omnicom and Interpublic Group. Through these holding companies most creative hopefuls learn of the different shops (agencies) who have offices spread out  throughout the world. A few that come to mind  are BBDO, Grey, Ogilvy & Mather, JWT and Young & Rubicam among a whole slew of others. These agency’s mentioned share a vast and deep history, but they all started the same as start ups! Someone usually one or two people with some creative background wanted to start their own shop. Nothing big just started that way it had to be built from the ground up, makes sense right? So these people probably left their respective shops in search of creating the next big thing.

Which leads us to today, a lot of these big agencies (giants) are still around and aren’t going anywhere no time soon. So what does a new start up do in order to combat against these behemoths? Well you do what the giants aren’t most willing to do and that’s take big risk. Most of these big agencies don’t dare to be daring in fear of pissing off clients, some of these clients are enormous with the likes of Coca Cola, Gillette, Bank of America, McDonalds and so on. They have established long lasting relationships that span over countless years. So why would they do anything to jeopardize that, it’s like having a best friends that pays you millions of dollars to play with your toys. You better play nice and not get in their bad side.

Start ups don’t have that dilemma because they aren’t on the same level as the big houses, riddled with this flexibility allows them to be daring and innovative differentiating them from the giants. This is a good thing because without that how would they stand a chance pitted against so much fire power. For the most part big agencies tend to most do traditional creative and group its people into silos. Account planners stay together art directors stay together production people kept together and creatives also. This kind of environment doesn’t foster collaboration and keeps ideas from flowing throughout the agency.

In today’s current landscape smaller start ups like to encourage collaboration and don’t want to adopt the thinking of these larger shops by separating people and ideas. Additionally these shops are also well versed in technology and can provide digital creative solutions for clients. What’s so funny about this is that the big name brands are seeking out these smaller start ups for innovation of their products. Like Nike approaching Big Spaceship, Nike wanted to create an online experience for customers. They stated people know about nike shoes, but we want them to experience the next best thing other than trying on our running shoes.

Big Spaceship Nike experience more air.

Nike Air Nike Air (site)

These innovative ventures leave a gap open for the smaller guys to have a fighting chance and by the looks of it a good one at that. Clients realize that with the web 2.0 gaining more momentum with ebooks, mobile, apps and animation in addition to more consumers adopting these technologies. Creates brand new platforms to reach audiences. Its quite understandable that students who are the future of advertising have never heard of shops like Big Spaceship, Carrot Creative, Code and Theory, Your Majesty, Taxi, Organic, Hush and a ton of others. Before these agencies were solely looked at as production arms to the big agencies, but no longer. Now smaller shops and start ups are establishing themselves as real deal players in the game. And I for one love it!