4 Misconceptions About Ad Agencies

By Emily Shea, VP/Partner & Executive Creative Director

November 16, 2015

Misconceptions about what happens at an ad agency are common. In the movies and on TV, it looks like one heck of a glamorous place. A lot of play with little to no work. The fact of the matter is that today’s ad agencies have to be a smart, finely tuned productivity machines that are always one step ahead. Only then can they deliver the results that clients expect.

So while it might be fun to think of agency life as one big open bar, the reality is, it’s much more disciplined than that.


Here are some common things we hear versus the reality of what happens behind closed doors.

Misconception: We sit around and dream up crazy, off the wall ideas, then coerce our clients into buying them.

What really happens: We come up with ideas that help our clients achieve success. Ideas that help them move the meter. That often results in a set of tactics. And some of them might sound a bit crazy. But those tactics are always part of a carefully planned strategy that will generate an ROI on your behalf. So, while an idea might sound crazy to you, you can rest assured it’s rooted in good sense.


Misconception: We come up with ideas off the cuff. After that, we blow off the rest of the day and bill you for it.

What really happens: We hear this all the time. After all, it’s only a tagline. Or a logo. Or a campaign themeline. Regardless of what the “it” is, coming up with ideas is hard work. And when we finally get to a couple we like, we spend time shooting holes in them and testing them to make sure they’ll perform. It takes time, determination and discipline, and we do it each and every day. Even if a deliverable seems simple when we present it, a lot of work went into every inch of what you see and hear.


Misconception: We hate client feedback.

What really happens: We absolutely love your feedback…especially when it’s constructive. While we make it our business to become immersed in your business, no one will ever know it the way you do. When we get feedback, we learn, we grow and our partnership strengthens. Now, there is a difference between valuable feedback and not-so-valuable feedback. To learn more, check out this brilliant post that details how to get the best work from your creative team.


Misconception: We bill you for every little thing.

What really happens: Yes, much like attorneys, ad agency employees account for every 15-minute increment of their time. But the truth is, there are a lot of things that don’t always make it to the time sheet. Like when we’re up in the middle of the night obsessing over the details of your project. When we’re at our kid’s soccer game and we have to step away from the sideline to jot down a few thoughts. Or, when we’re out shopping and we take the time to observe your products, and your competitors’ products, out in the wild.

Ideas, inspiration and the work of an agency professional don’t live exclusively between the hours of 9-5. We put in extra time that you don’t know about and will never see—except for in the quality of the final product.

Do you have any questions about what happens behind agency doors? If so, let us know in the comments section below. We’d be happy to demystify it for you. Maybe even over a beer—after we’re finished working, of course.


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Biggest Little Company

This comprehensive rebranding effort includes custom motion graphics videos, radio and print ads.

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