Feature

On the Creative Floor: Creative artists agency

Don't be fooled by its LA glass-and-steel edifice, collaboration is the motto of the shop that won a Film Grand Prix at Cannes, Jae Goodman writes.

  • CAA Marketing

    CAA Marketing

  • CAA Marketing

    CAA Marketing

  • CAA Marketing

    CAA Marketing

  • CAA Marketing

    CAA Marketing

  • CAA Marketing

    CAA Marketing

  • CAA Marketing

    CAA Marketing

  • CAA Marketing

    CAA Marketing

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In the post-Mad Men era, advertising's creatives moved out of the back room and out of their suits and ties. Convention and formality became the enemy in terms of our work, our attire and, soon, our physical surroundings. If we were tearing down figurative walls, surely we must tear down the real ones! Open space would lead to open minds.

How, then, would a small group of former advertising creatives who'd come to Hollywood get inspired within the confines of the large, formal, office-for-every-executive, suit-and-tie, white-marble world of Creative Artists Agency?

Very well, thank you. Because first impressions of CAA's glass, steel, marble and polished wood Los Angeles headquarters (once described by the editor of another advertising publication in a single word: "Gulp") can be deceiving.

What lies beyond any initial thoughts of formality is CAA's vibrant, dynamic culture of collaboration. And every inch of this beautiful space is designed and built to support our culture.

CAA, the company, is built on the idea that the best and only way to service our clients - from the world's greatest artists, entertainers and athletes to the world's greatest brands - is with a collaborative team of agents and executives with wide-ranging expertise. But, to state the obvious, the philosophy only works if every team and every individual within every team actually work as a team. We do.

We share information obsessively. We meet constantly, but efficiently. Our company of more than 1,200 people worldwide (almost 800 of us here) meets once a month. We walk down the hall to speak to a colleague before we pick up the phone; we pick up the phone before we type an e-mail; and when we e-mail, we over-cc. We take care of our clients by taking care of each other and each other's clients. We believe that, if we do this, good things will happen.

Which brings us back to where we do all of this: the building where our group of former advertising creatives, working side by side with our brand strategists, collaborate with agents and executives from the worlds of film, TV, music, sports, video games, digital, theatre, lifestyle and virtually every other form of entertainment and popular culture in the service of brands such as Coca-Cola, General Motors, Mattel, Diageo, Southwest Airlines, Best Buy, QVC, Chipotle and more. This building, to say it again, is built for collaboration.

For starters, although we have individual offices, we spend much of our time in the open space of our eight-storey atrium.

When we travel between floors of the open atrium - whether by stairs or by elevator - we choose not to speak or type on our mobile phones in favour of chance interactions such as: "Hey, I have an idea for you." Or even just: "Hey, how are you?"

And, if in our travels we have an idea that does require a quick call, we can leave our mobile in our pocket and use one of the old-school, iconic CAA red phones.

When we meet as a company, we meet in our large screening room, known as the Ray Kurtzman Theatre.

For review of filmed work with clients, or just to catch a film to get inspired, we have the Red Room - a casual screening room.

CAA Marketing, the group from which we creatives and our diverse team of marketing strategists service our brand clients, sits on the second floor, alongside many of our most-used spaces. The second floor includes the coffee bar, seating area and video wall, an outdoor terrace (free ice-cream is served here on summer Wednesdays as yet another way to encourage casual cross-company interaction) and a round conference room known as The Tank.

Also on the second floor is one of the centrepieces of CAA's art collection - itself a source of inspiration. This piece is a massive composite photo of the original CAA mailroom filled with key items from CAA's 35-year-plus history. Each item was individually placed into the image: the client list from 1975 hangs on the mailroom wall, a stack of scripts includes Forrest Gump, Risky Business and ET, a publicity photo from the Kiss Alive tour and, of course, a bottle and a can of Coca-Cola. An iPod and headphones next to the image allow viewers to hear stories of the CAA mailroom, as told by the agents who went through it. Each item in the photo is not only a fun reminder of the incredible pop-culture moments in which CAA and our clients have had a hand, but also a reminder of our colleagues delivering a work product that lives up to the promise of our culture.

Our work for our brand clients at CAA Marketing is not born from the traditional ad agency creative team of two: art director and copywriter. Our creativity is often born from many and crafted by more. Our ideas flourish here at CAA because they are brought to fruition by collaboration with our colleagues, our clients and our connection to the broader entertainment and pop-culture ecosystem. Our creativity is enhanced by the workspace itself because the space facilitates our collaboration. We walk, talk, drink, eat, meet and work together in this beautiful space that encourages us to be together. In the end, the building does not just support our culture - it is part of it.

And, get this, we, the creative descendants of those in advertising who threw off the shackles of formal business environments, have even been known to throw on a tie.

Jae Goodman is the co-head and co-chief creative officer at CAA Marketing.

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