Bringing Back the Fun


As we age, I think we all reflect on a life once was and reminisce about “how fun things use to be”. Was the advertising agency business more fun back in the day? In my opinion, it was. I was recently sharing with my team that today’s workplace and workday just seems to have become a grind from beginning to end. Don’t get me wrong, the advertising agency business has always been a stressful challenge. Yet, it just seemed lighter, if that is the right word, back in the day.

No doubt, in the dynamic world of advertising, where creativity and innovation still reign supreme, I think maintaining fun and excitement remains crucial to the long-term success of an Agency.

Well, my staff asked what “fun” looked like in the day, and how that translated to 2024. Good question.

Creative Culture
Within the digital age we find ourselves in, I think in many ways we have lost the heart of the advertising agency business – creative talent. No doubt, in my 40+ years, one thing has always been true; nurturing a culture that celebrates creativity not only encourages risk-taking, but it will also drive out-of-the-box thinking throughout the agency – in strategy, media, social, everything. We need to get back to creating spaces within agencies where brainstorming sessions are lively, ideas flow freely, and collaboration is encouraged.

Diversity of Thought
A big cornerstone in building a creative culture is to understand that diversity breeds creativity. A creative culture doesn’t come from the creative department alone. Diversity of thought, background, and experience within your agency will breed creativity within the agency. We need to embrace different perspectives and empower every team member, from every department, to contribute their unique insights.

Pursue Passion Projects
Every advertising agency, big or small, should be allowing (encouraging) their employees the freedom to pursue passion projects alongside their regular work. Whether it’s a pro bono campaign for a cause they care about, a personal creative endeavor, or an experimental project, giving team members the autonomy to explore their interests will often reignite their enthusiasm for their craft. These passion projects not only infuse fresh energy into the agency but also showcase the diverse talents of your team.

Foster Work-Life Balance
Burnout is the antithesis of creativity, and burnout is a huge issue, particularly in today’s Ad Agency life. Agencies need to encourage a healthy work-life balance by respecting boundaries, promoting flexible working arrangements, and advocating for regular breaks. Management needs to encourage employees to disconnect after work hours, take vacations, and pursue hobbies outside of work. A well-rested and rejuvenated team is far more likely to produce inspired work than one that is perpetually overworked and stressed.

Gamify the Process
Perhaps turn mundane tasks into engaging challenges by gamifying the process. At 78Madison, we have often created friendly competitions, set achievable goals with rewards, and incorporated elements of playfulness into everyday tasks. Whether it’s a leaderboard for meeting deadlines, a points system for generating creative ideas, or a themed treasure hunt for team building, gamification can inject a sense of fun and motivation into the workplace.

Encourage Continuous Learning
Learning should be a lifelong journey, especially in a fast-evolving industry like advertising. If you are not already doing so, you should encourage ongoing professional development by providing opportunities for training, workshops, conferences, and skill-sharing sessions. Invest in resources that foster learning and innovation, whether it’s access to online courses, subscriptions to creative platforms, or bringing in guest speakers. By nurturing a culture of curiosity and learning, you not only enhance the skill set of your team but also keep the work environment stimulating and fun.

Celebrate Successes, Big and Small
Be sure to acknowledge and celebrate achievements, no matter how small. Whether it’s winning a major pitch, receiving positive feedback from a client, or simply completing a project ahead of schedule, take the time to recognize and appreciate the efforts of your team. Host regular celebrations, share success stories internally, and create rituals that commemorate milestones. By fostering a culture of celebration, you reinforce a sense of accomplishment and pride, motivating your team to continue striving for excellence.

That’s it!

Having fun in the advertising agency business requires a concerted effort to cultivate a creative, inclusive, and supportive environment where innovation thrives, and individuals feel empowered to unleash their full creative potential. For sure, when work feels like play, magic happens, and that’s when the most memorable and impactful campaigns are born.

Anything you would add to the list?

Let us know.

Joe Bouch
CEO, 78Madison

At 78Madison, we know it takes fresh insights, engaging storytelling, and fearless creativity to create smart, and strategic brands. Let’s start a conversation.