As in the case of the mythical lost island of Atlantis, I don’t think the place is real.
I’m aware of the metaphoric meaning of the expression but, because I have huge respect for the power of words and metaphors, I have always been very cautious about the tricky hierarchical mindset created by this one.
Instead of a view from the top, I’ve been living my professional life always seeking to have a view from the centre. Meaning that I structure my ways of working in a manner that can allow me to be surrounded by references, influences, business and creative opportunities, and talent from all sides and angles, independently of background or specific discipline.
So, no top or bottom, but a more spherical approach to work instead of detachedly floating in the organigram above all the excitement.
I enjoy being put at the centre of any problematic strategic puzzle, as much as fighting for the quality of ideas presented by the creative teams and executive creative directors (and crafting ideas myself).
I feel good being brought to the centre of a client’s tough business challenge, getting the heat together with him (or her), while looking for the solution.
It’s good to be dragged to the centre of the agency business performance and engage with the task of planning its present and future, as much as I deem it crucial to be at the heart of the profitability dilemma faced by our industry in general.
About this one in particular, my view is advertising/ communication unequivocally add immense value to business but, sadly, it’s placed at the cost line of companies’ P&L. It’s a tough contradiction as creativity by definition must be improved and exhorted – all the time; while cost must be cut and kept as low as possible – all the time.
At Bartle Bogle Hegarty, the value of creativity is the number-one priority and, whatever the business model must be, BBH will deliver the best and most valuable creative ideas in as many fields as the creative need and opportunity present themselves.
One of the many necessary ways to achieve that, in my view, is to empower the creative leaders within the specific geographic and cultural realities, while exposing them to all the diversity of our current global ad business in order to change/evolve their profile.
In doing that, we can amplify the great creative strength and relevance this agency has consistently delivered throughout the years. And relevance is a key word, in my opinion.
There’s a direct correlation in our business between relevance and reputation, and this correlation can create a vicious or a virtuous circle.
Since the meaning of relevance in the ad world changes, the only way to maintain a reputation is to start every year eagerly working as if you don’t have one. And finish that year forgetting about the one you tirelessly struggled to build in the course of it. So, the best way of caring for your reputation is by focusing on your relevance. That’s how you get the virtuous circle.
Since one can hardly see any relevant new thing coming by sitting at the top of everything one already knows or is, it’s better to get a central, wider position right in the eye of the hurricane.
Besides, who can tell where the top is when the whole industry landscape is being turned upside down?
Alexandre Gama is the worldwide chief creative officer at Bartle Bogle Hegarty