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Would you hire a 'bad' agency?

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

"We do things differently. Disruption over the status quo. Don't like it? We aren't for you. Sign up for the newsletter, you sh*t."

If someone you'd just met said something to you in this tone, you'd probably give a lukewarm laugh and clumsily pre dial your phone to 999, ready for when things got weirder.

Could you imagine actively wanting to see them again?

Often clients work with me in conjunction with agencies who handle all sorts of marketing elements, and most of them are lovely people and have a fantastic, warm and welcoming sites that reflects their principles, ethos and the reality of working with them.

It always heartens me to see a site like this. I also imagine that as a buyer, you would welcome some kind of implication that there would be some deference. You provide money. They are the service provider. You will be treated with respect and work with people who aren't lone rangers.

I'd say that's a basic pillar of humanity, as well as business, to treat others respectfully.

But now and again, I stumble upon an agency who have a brand strategy taken from the Nathan Barley playbook, with a brand goal to be a blend of obnoxious and contrary, to act more aggressively than they probably are, and to give the impression that they are chewing gum, sat with their feet on the desk, pausing only to sporadically put two fingers up at 'the man' or count LinkedIn likes on another hard hitting post.

You'll probably have seen the copy on social or on websites. (Disrupt. Overcome. Smash.)

Can't spot it? Relax. There's a better way. Just look for the stops. Little dots. Punctuating. With a shrug. Sounds cool. Edgy. That's the way.

It's not to say it's a bad strategy. I just think it's overdone.

It reminds me of this passage from Oscar Wilde's Essays:

"Most personalities have been obliged to be rebels. Half their strength has been wasted in friction....Such battles do not always intensify strength: they often exaggerate weakness."

I have no idea of their conversion rates or any hard data. I simply wonder what kind of person reads this and thinks 'Excellent, these guys sound like they are going to be really great for my business.' Calling someone a sh*t when i've worked hard to get them to my website is not something that I could do.

Perhaps that makes me a sell out, a bit too nice. A bit beige?

But as a person, I'd far rather be a bit soft around the edges and quite tame, than to wake with a start at 3am with a moment of crashing clarity that naming the 'portfolio' section of my website 'Raising Hell' made me look like...

A silly sausage.

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