Agency Vs Client Side

I worked in the advertising agency right out of college. I had an eventful 5+ years in the industry and few months ago, I finally left the circle and jumped to the other side of the fence, the client side.

The client side is often known to be the greener side. I have former colleagues who joined the agency from the client side and they described agency as if it’s a sinking ship where everyone is toiling to stay afloat at the mercy of clients who are pointing guns at us. We’re slaves to clients. While client-agency relationship are now improving as clients recognise the agency as industry experts, ultimately we depend on clients for our rice-bowls and that’s why “customer is king” delineates agency culture.

Now that I’ve switched to a client position, I can finally make a first hand comparison of life in the agency vs client-side and here are my two cents –

Working Hour
Advertising agency is notorious for its crazy working hour because that’s true. Even if you work on a retainer account, somehow you can never guess when you’d be required to stay late for emergency so it’s rather hard to plan activities after working hour. On the bright side, most agencies tolerate late-comers so you can sleep-in a little but you probably need that after working late the night before.

Verdict: Client-side wins!
As client you may need to check your email often even during holidays but you basically plan for things and ask the agency to make it happen. So you have that break time while your agency scrambles to make things happen.

Company Culture
One of the things I miss the most working in agency is the company culture. Agency people thrive on being a fun bunch of people. I remember few of us were staying late and one of the director said this before he left office “It’s just advertising guys! Nobody dies (even if we fail).” Agency environment can be stressful, working around deadlines and unfortunately there are cases of personnel who died from overwork… but I think majority of the days we know how to let loose. On the client side, people are a lot more cordial. They know how to keep things professional on the surface even if they hate your guts. Clients seem more proper than advertisers.

Verdict: Agency wins!
I guess Agency gives off a more fun and genuine vibe. It’s like being in the last class versus the best class in cohort. (Not saying clients are smarter, I’m just talking about the atmosphere).

Projects/ The Work
There are vast learning opportunities being on either side. The benefit of being with agency is that you’ll handle different brands and be exposed to a range of industries (unless you are on a retainer account – then you should experience working for different accounts). You would also learn to manage offline and online media, working with suppliers, third parties, etc. Being a client hones my planning and strategy skills and here I have the opportunities to interact with more senior level executives within my working industry (not just within the corporation).

Verdict: It depends on your interest. Personally I developed an eye for detail (which is NOT my natural skill) working in the agency. Agency does a lot of implementation while clients does planning. Agency is good place to start, but if you start off as a client then stay – Do not enter the agency zone.

Salary
If you start your career as an entry-level in the agency, you probably earn less than your peers in other industry but the learning you get is priceless and you could get more perks (free booze, client’s products, tickets, etc) working in agency. But for long term goal, I think client pays better.

Verdict: Client wins! (Agency wins if you’re director level/ have won awards/ white person in an Asian agency which probably means you’re director level)

***

It’s too early for me to conclude which side of the fence I prefer. I am sure both sides have their pros and cons. I certainly have enjoyed being part of the advertising world because I’ve met really great colleagues who were my comrades-in-arms while battling with client briefs. I just feel that being in the agency allows you to form really great relationships, do work you’re proud of, have fun, be creative however it keeps your world rather secluded. Whenever I meet someone from advertising agency, I look at them as if they’re my countrymen. Maybe I’m dramatic. But you can grouch about timesheet, laugh over client briefs, share crazy agency party stories, you belong to a unique industry. Right now, even if I meet someone from my current industry, I would probably look at them as competitors? I can learn from them but at the same time I need to be wary. I don’t know, I’m really too new to say anything conclusive.

In any case, enjoy yourself wherever you are. If you’re working in advertising agency and feel everything sucks, trust me you’re gonna miss it when it’s over – hopefully it’ll be over. It’s a love-hate relationship really.

Cheers,
Client.
cnorris

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2018 New Year’s Resolution

Finally done drafting my resolution! I take New Year’s Resolution seriously because I’m one of those unmotivated and easily distracted person so if I don’t have a list of goals, there’s high chance I might go wayward and meander through the year. Last year I am pleased that I did well against my resolution for the first time since I started making resolution list. So let’s kick start 2018 with a new set of goals! I’ve categoried them in no particular order.

1. God

I’m re-cultivating the habit of morning prayer as a symbol and reminder to start everything with God.

2. Health

Last year I wanted to be healthy and I’ve done so by going for crossfit and signing up gym membership (also actually use it). This year I wanna be healthier and fit by exercising 2x a week (I just wanna make the most out of my membership fee) and watching my diet. Reduce sugar and rice. Hopefully lose 2kg in the process.

3. Finance

The aim is to be financially prudent or to quote my company’s expenses policy – “X is committed to ensuring that all expenditure incurred is prudent, reasonable and reflects sound judgement and decision making.” Do I need a cat butt tissue dispenser? No.

4. Relationship

Make time to develop relationships. Be aware of who and how I’m spending my time. Accept that I am not be able to keep up with everyone because if I do I will burnout and lose track of people who matter.

5. Self-care

On top of making time for others, I’m setting aside me-time. This includes pampering myself (manicure, creambath, go to salon) and doing the necessities like an overdue visit to the dentist and my doctors!

6. Writing

Starting with 1 post per week to gain back the momentum. The post need not be extraordinary or meaningful as long as they are published.

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7. Career

I am grateful for the new job and now it’s time to take it up a notch – be aggressive and proactive. Do the obvious. E.g. Don’t understand? Ask! Need to cut the meeting and excuse myself? Speak up! Need to chat? Call!

8. Community

Continuing from last year’s resolution on being more involved with Toastmaster and Cell group, this year I want to be more present. To be part of a community means I don’t just receive from the group but also contribute my knowledge, experience, skills and time.

Alrighty. 2018, we’re ready for you!

Cheers,

Mel.

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A year has passed!

How long has it been since I last blogged?? Scrolling to the previous post and that’s in September! It felt way longer than 3 months. I’ve been keeping up with my 2017 new year resolution quite successfully that I neglected updating my blog… I promise to put “writing/blogging more often” in my next year’s resolution (Hope I’m not setting myself up for failure!)

I hope you guys have been doing great. I write as though I have any faithful readers but anyone who used to read my blog would have stopped checking and it’s understandable looking at how neglected this blog is (WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME ANYMORE?!) Anyway, 2017 has been a pretty fantastic year for me even though it kicked off with a date gone weird (Bacon guy – I need to write about this! Stay tuned), and just few days ago I had a mini* meltdown when I realised I am spending Christmas single for the first time in 6 years, but all in all I’ve accomplished a lot more this year than I ever did; I signed up for gym membership and actually use it consistently. I started doing crossfit with my small group leader who became a friend. I started a new job and for the first time I can see myself staying in a company for long term, and just today I got my permanent residency status! Sweet as.

Above all, the one thing I’m the most pleased with this year is that I find my way back to God. Technically, I’ve never left the church/Him but I was at the point where I thought I had a relationship with God but He really was more of a tradition for me. This year, there were few situations that caused me to think through my faith journey and seek Him deeper. I don’t mean that I have reached the point of peace with God and all is well. It’s a journey and there’s constant up and down moments but I know for sure He has changed me for good and I’m not going back to where I was.

Yep, that’s a short summary of how my year has been. I will most definitely catch up with you soon with a list of new year resolution. Till then wishing you an awesome New Year ahead!

Leonardo-Dicaprio-Cheers

Cheers,
Mel.

*”Mini Meltdown” is how people downplay their emotional craziness.

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Let’s wine about it.

I WANT TO WHINE ALL DAY. I hate people who whine, need attention, who are unclear of what they wanna do, yet that’s who I am at this present. I am sitting typing this because I don’t know what else to do. Correction: I know exactly what I should be doing but I am avoiding it because I lack sense of responsibility or discipline.

The reason why I am here typing instead of verbally bitching to my colleagues is because I want to train to shut myself up when I feel like complaining which is proving to be a very difficult task. Workplace complaint is bad for your environment because it easily becomes a habit. Even if you don’t really hate what you complaint about, you will eventually come to hate it because you’ve manipulated yourself to hate it. So the next time you feel an urge to bitch about something, catch that thought and flush it down the toilet. Unless you know it’s a legit issue that should be highlighted to your boss then by all means give that constructive contribution.

I’m very easily distracted as you can probably tell from the way I structured my paragraphs. I get bored quicker than average human. I remember getting bored eating a bowl of prawn noodle because there’s only one taste to it (did I really expect the flavor to change halfway through the meal?! I surprise myself sometimes). So I’ve been trying to focus at work from 9 am till now which explains why at 5pm my brain left the premise and I stared at the screen wondering why I can no longer concentrate on whatever I was doing.

This probably is a messy post to read, but it’s my way of gathering my thoughts without complaining to an actual person in front of my face (I’ve instead blogged and complained to billions of human with access to internet).

So yes, time to get back to work. I have 30 minutes left before the bell rings.

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Cheers,
Mel.

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Rejecting what is wrong.

I was doing my morning devotion when I read a verse in Psalm 36, “…Even on his bed he plots evil; he commits himself to a sinful course and does not reject what is wrong.

The last phrase (in bold) puzzled me. Why didn’t the bible say “he commits himself to a sinful course and does what is evil”?

It is because the act of not rejecting what is wrong is as evil as the act of doing it. When you’re not rejecting it, you’re participating in it.

I’ve read many news that outraged me recently but I’m a silent person. I don’t like rocking the boat or disrupting social media feed by posting my thought on current affairs while most of my friends post about their lives, food or babies.* When I read about the unrest in Charlottesville, I wanted to speak up but I started thinking Charlottesville is so far away from where I am. I’ve never even heard about that city until now. It seems whatever is happening there is none of my business and not going to affect my livelihood in this peaceful nation.

That’s exactly how the devil wants us to think. He wants us to turn a blind eye on world issues and continue to live our insulated life while the other part of the world wages war against evil.

We have to speak up when we see something reprehensible. You don’t have to be a Christian to condemn what the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists stand for but as a Christian, it is our mandate to reject it.

Sign off,
Mel.

*disclaimer: I love life, food and babies.  

 

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Changing the world one word at a time.

I’ve been trying to write a new post for a while but I keep falling into the same cycle – “I’m going to write something today!” then I open my laptop, create a new draft, stare at the blank page for couple of minutes, surf the net for inspiration, stumble upon a cat video, forget what I was doing. When I realise time has been lost, I’d think “Man! Maybe I’ve lost that vision to be a writer. Maybe I’m not meant to write.”

Humans are capable of turning the simplest thing into full season of Emmy-winning drama. We like to be in control and feel like we’re making a difference with what we do.  I love writing but it’s not enough to put words into paper, I need to make the words come to life and crawl into your deepest, darkest heart, plant a seed and grow into an age-old tree and bear fruits to your next generations. I put so much burden into every word no wonder I ended up not typing anything.

I know people who are very intentional with the things they do and I admire them for it. But if you’re like me, a little scattered and easily distracted (basically an ENFP), don’t beat yourself up if you can’t think of a life changing action to take or story to tell. Start small and build up from there. Our approach to life shouldn’t be that complicated. While we strive to do our best we need to know that no one expects us to be perfect right away except our pride/ insecurities/ competitiveness/ Asian parents, maybe.

As you can see, I’m starting to write even when I don’t have the sentences in my head. But I know every post published will not be in vain because while it might not change the World, at least it brings clarity to myself and that’s good enough.

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X,
Mel.

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In response to: “Kami Cinta Indonesia. Tapi Buat Apa Kami Pulang Ke Indonesia?”

Indonesia, Asia’s sleeping giant, has recently been woken up by a man on a quest to clean up Jakarta with his straight-talk and no-corruption movement. What he is doing is unheard of in Indonesia where corruption has become part of our cultural identity, one that I abhor but at the same time benefit from.

This man, Pak Ahok, truly has the heart for the nation. He should be hailed as National Hero because he is unafraid of the “elite” gangsters and working his best to help the citizens who are unable to return him any favour. But instead he is put behind bars for deliberate blasphemy. While I can see why a Muslim can take offence of what he said but anyone should be able to tell the context of what he said was that voters should not be deceived by politicians hiding behind the religious veil and using that to manipulate people. It wasn’t a deliberate blasphemy. Besides, if someone said something negative about the bible I would defend it but I wouldn’t demand that person be locked up or cry for blood. We can have differing opinion and still co-exist that’s the whole point of democracy. Anyone with clarity of mind should be able to tell Pak Ahok has no ill-intention to the Muslim community. It’s just unfortunate that he was a marked man and his opponents were looking for reason to throw a grenade and they did.

For Ahok’s supporter, I can understand your disappointment, anger, or sadness. His sentencing to 2 years in prison is clearly a political play. How could the sentence be harsher than what the prosecutor demand for? I find the whole case just ridiculous. After the verdict, my Facebook timeline was flooded with posts expressing my friends’ disappointment and how some of them are ready to abandon their Indonesian passport or move to another country. Then I read an article of a letter by a student in Australia asking “Kami Cinta Indonesia, Tapi Buat Apa Kami Pulang Ke Indonesia?” (translate: We love Indonesia, but what for we come back to Indonesia?)

I grew up in Singapore and I’ve spent most of my life abroad. Every time someone asked if I have any intention to come back, I would say “what for?” or “not really”. I’m much more comfortable living in Singapore where rules are observed and values are sustained. In Indonesia everything is malleable. My friends say that what makes Indonesia creative and filled with opportunities but I find it just too much hassle. I like to keep my hands clean and enjoy the advantages of earning dollars, spending rupiah. Yes, I’m one of those hypocrites but if there’s anything that Ahok has stirred within me is the desire to come back to Jakarta.

Since Ahok came along I see how the nationalism towards Jakarta has improved among Indonesians around me. He brings glimmer of hope that Jakarta can be improved and become a city we are proud of, or willing to come back to. I always thought the slogan for Indonesia should be “Money is Power” but Ahok has a vision to help the less fortunate. As an idealist, I think that’s more important than thinking of how I can earn more for myself while watching the depressing news everyday and reading about the poor dying because they are denied of basic health care.

Now that Ahok is locked behind bars, the first thing that came to my mind was “Man. Jakarta need more people like Ahok to continue the fight!” We have an obligation to come back if we truly love the country. Honestly I don’t know if I love the country enough to leave the comfort of Singapore and if that’s what my calling at this point. Even if I come back I don’t know what good can I do to the country. Will I be joining a political party? If yes I need to be active? Am I willing to be active? Okay, this indecisiveness is my problem. Let’s leave it at that but I’m considering returning for good.

Ahok said “Kalian semua bisa memenjarakan Ahok, tapi kalian tidak bisa memenjarakan ide-ide saya.” (translate: You can put Ahok behind bars, but you can’t put my ideas behind bars.) Ahok may be in jail but we still have more people with his ideas. We need to rise up. We need to continue the fight. It’s time to stop mourning for Ahok’s sentence. The war is not lost. It has only started.

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X,
Mel.

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