CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/FREELANCING - Patrick Collister’s launch will not reinvent the wheel, Francesca Newland writes

By FRANCESCA NEWLAND,, Friday, 30 June 2000 12:00AM

The cream of the commercials crop was on display last week at Cannes.

The cream of the commercials crop was on display last week at


The kind of ads that don’t get made without massive confrontations,

expense and effort from creative agencies and their clients.

However, against this backdrop a more quiet event occurred. Patrick

Collister, the former creative director and vice-chairman of Ogilvy &

Mather, launched his online creative ideas vehicle called

The service harnesses London’s top freelance creative talent. Names

including Adam Kean and Graham Fink are on a list that reads like a

who’s who of creative talent: Richard Sloggett, Peter Harold, Dennis

Lewis and Simon Carbery.

The point is that with such good names available to generate creative

ideas, clients must be asking themselves whether it is worth the

arguments and cash required when using an agency?

Rupert Howell, the chairman of HHCL and the president of the IPA,

argues: ’Agencies are about managing and combining creative and

strategic talent.

Agencies have an astonishing left brain/ right brain combination. All

great work comes from great agencies and great clients. The tension

between them is a positive force.’

There is a definite place, though, in the broad world of advertising

production for freelances and services such as Collister’s. As Howell

adds: ’There are always clients that, for either time or money reasons,

will need that kind of service.’

The nature of the creative director’s role in any big agency means there

will always be several top creatives going freelance. Few creative

directors entered their profession thinking that their days would be

full of hiring, firing, salary negotiations and strategic meetings.

Collister sees other reasons why many good creatives are disenchanted

with agency life. ’Developing ads for clients is like drawing hens’

teeth these days. It takes forever.’

He believes that there are too many people influencing each creative

execution. He says: ’Account people are surrogate creative directors. At

some large agencies the chief executive is also the executive creative

director. People don’t like those kinds of conditions.

’If you work in an agency and you sign your name to a piece of work, 15

out of 16 times it will get crapped on by your agency and clients.

As a freelance you don’t develop an attachment to your work while in an

agency you are encouraged to.’

Collister is keen to point out that he is not setting up a new White

Door - a virtual agency staffed by freelances. He sees much of his

business coming from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and even South

America - countries that would be thrilled to gain access to London’s

top creative minds.

Services such as Collister’s do not threaten the bottom lines of

advertising agencies, but there is definitely room for both in the

market. This is especially the case when so much of London’s best

creative talent is rejecting agency life.

This article was first published on


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