Creative Talk with Michael Ellenor, Sweeney Advertising
Michael Ellenor is a busy Creative Services Director at Sweeney Advertising. Running the creative department for the agency – managing creatives, timelines and client expectations. No mean feat!
How did you progress your career to Creative Services Director?
The opportunity to join Sweeney came about to start up a creative team to extend their offering beyond media. Having previously partnered with the team at Sweeney whilst working at a previous agency, I had a good understanding of their offering to clients and the internal culture and felt I was a good fit for them. The experience I had picked up in previous roles, across both ‘client side’ marketing roles and ‘agency’ account service roles, paved the way for this opportunity as it had given me the insight and experience to deliver creative services for clients.
You have worked both client side and agency side, are there any glaringly obvious differences?
For me I have seen agency side provide a lot more freedom for ideas, there’s no restraints to what we can come up with. Where on the client side it can often have more internal challenges, which can limit creativity.
On a day to day – wrangling creatives and account management expectations, how do you stay in control of the workload and demands?
I’ve always found the key things for me to staying organised are ensuring the detail is right the first time, an up to date calendar and a clear to-do list. Things change so often in our work, so being organised and on top of everything I think is the key. My goal is to be proactive with clients and keep ahead of their expectations.
Many people would look at your role and think ‘daunting’, break it down for us.
The role is definitely challenging and will force you to value your time and how you use it. Client’s needs will always come first and as these can change quickly, we need to be able to be responsive. The real challenge I think, is keeping the objectives of what we’re trying to achieve clear and present as things get busy. This comes back to having easy processes and having systems in place to help ourselves deliver the best work. The consistent focus for all of our team is to deliver great work for our clients.
Agencies are slowly turning towards Agile methodologies – has Sweeney embraced this?
Absolutely, without retainers and guaranteed ongoing work we have set up our team with a nimble philosophy. With a core team of account service and creative we are able to scale up around this as required, due to the great freelance talent pool available.
What are the highlights of your role?
Delivering new ideas for clients. As an agency, this is our greatest offer to clients and where my passion lies. We get to view things as the consumer, I think this is the hardest thing for any client to do as they live and breathe their brand. To get the chance to look at brands with a customer hat on and to create ideas based on these is really enjoyable.
And the lowlights?
The occasional late night in the office to meet a deadline.
Is your role integrated with digital – a combined studio?
Yes, we lead all of our work with a strategic approach and our team is equipped to deliver through any channel; print, digital, video etc. I don’t see us as digital, or print, or above the line… everything we do needs to be able to be delivered across any channel in today’s marketing environment.
Do you find that traditional agency studio roles – artworkers and designers are changing and agencies are expecting them to cover more than the usual Creative Suite skills – i.e. digital and motion?
I feel the expectations of designers is growing all the time. Our core creative team have a wide range of skills, but I strongly believe in bringing in specialists as required. Depending on the depth of skills required for motion or digital or whatever it may be, it will always be beneficial to have a specialist to deliver the best outcome.
When you are hiring someone, what are the key things you look for?
It’s all about attitude and cultural fit. Agency life isn’t easy at times, so we look for someone who is capable of handling the environment, whilst always looking to make the most of every situation. It goes without saying the skillset needs to match the role, but the best team we can have is the one that will work together to achieve the best results.
Top quality studio moment?
It’s always enjoyable when our creative and media teams work together and we get to see our client’s campaigns come to life.