Jim Ingram and Ben Couzens: Why there are fewer and fewer great places to work these days

Jim Ingram and Ben Couzens share their thoughts on becoming executive creative directors and partners of independent creative:media agency, CumminsRoss, Melbourne.

There are a number of reasons why this article shouldn’t be interesting. People start in new agencies every day, right?

But here’s the thing – as the big agencies continue to get bigger, there are actually becoming fewer places to work in Australia. Which means fewer viable options for clients also. To the point where right now you can count only a handful of real ‘destination’ agencies in Melbourne. And as a result, more and more brilliant creative minds are leaving this city, and this country, to ply their trades elsewhere. And that just doesn’t seem right.

We’ve spent our last 8 years working in two of the biggest agency networks, both backed by multinationals with nearly 150 years of combined history between them. So it seemed fitting that we left arguably the country’s biggest and best agency, to join CumminsRoss on the day they celebrated their third birthday. So why did we do it?

On 11.1.11 the eight founding partners of CumminsRoss opened their doors with the guiding principal that media and creative should work as one. And in just three short years they’ve accumulated nearly 100 staff, offices in Melbourne, Adelaide and New York, a treasure-trove of clients and a neat little collection of awards including Cannes, One Show, London International and Spikes. Ironically, by adopting the old school approach of combining creative and media, this brand new agency has a model that appears to be working.

In our first three weeks here alone we’ve witnessed two pitch wins and a third shortlisting (yet to be decided) and it became blindingly obvious that being independent allows things to move fast. For example, on my second day I broke my computer (some firewall issue with Redtube or something). Instead of phoning the I.T. Helpdesk I walked over to Gene our IT dude and using my mouth I said “Gene, I broke my computer.” Seven minutes later I was up and running again.

And it dawned on us that this is how independent agencies like CumminsRoss operate. If something needs to be done, you simply gather the people who can do the doing, and do it. You don’t log jobs and wait. It’s with this considered energy that they’ve managed to create so much in such a short time.

Don’t get us wrong, there is still work to be done before we are truly considered a destination agency. But with willing clients the likes of Jeep, Deakin University, Reflex, Dairy Australia and Nike, by all accounts there’s nothing holding us back. So before you book your flight to go and find that wonderful agency, give us a shout and we can tell you more about what we’ve got planned here. If nothing else, we’ll give you a good restaurant recommendation to try before you leave…

By Campaign Brief.