It’s Not About The Uniform

Ylimaallinen vieraskynä / guest writer

Do you recognise this guy?



There seems to be a creative quality control problem in Finland

Anybody who has worked in an advertising agency here will recognise the ‘types’. You know, the junior creative with his red pipo, stripy shirt, jeans and brightly coloured rare/vintage kicks. Or the creative director, mostly dressed in black, with some kind of loose scarf wrapped around the neck, black rimmed glasses, brown leather shoes – swanning around but not doing much actual directing?

But the right clothes, or uniform, do not a decent creative make.



It seems to me, as a person who has worked all over the world on very big international brands, that a lot of people working in the advertising and creative industries in Finland are here for the wrong reasons. Because they deem it ‘cool’. …And they dress accordingly in order to fit in.

But the only good reason to be a creative, is if you actually love the creative process. Because it’s a hard, demanding job, so you really need to love it.

Taking a job in advertising and creative work should not be ‘a lifestyle choice’ or because you think it’s ‘cool’, but rather based on a deep passion for the creative process and new, innovative ideas.


Agencies must ‘trim the fat’

To be perfectly frank. I’ve encountered many people working in advertising here in Finland that wouldn’t last five minutes in London. Some of whom are even perceived as very good. (!)

In today’s economic climate, companies can’t afford to have people coasting along, carried by the talent of other, more capable/hardworking people in the company. I’ve noticed a lot of ‘fat’ in agencies here. People who don’t earn their keep – and basically just aren’t good enough – yet they go under the radar because they ‘look the part’.

Advertising and creative work should be a meritocracy, that is to say, based on merit. Those who rise to the top should be the most talented. Not the most vocal, the ones who are better at ‘managing their profile’ well or look the part. A lot of inferior creatives seem to rise to the top here, because of these things, despite not actually being particularly good.

A company is only as good as their worst employee, as soon as you get people inside who are there for the wrong reasons, or there because they deem it a lifestyle choice, it all goes to sh*t.

The aim of every new hire, should be to hire someone you think is better than you. If people aren’t pulling their weight, they should not be there.


(Self)Education & support

A good junior creative should make it their business to educate themselves about all aspects of their job and the business. Not just focus on their tiny part of the process e.g. A simple layout. Although, by all means, start there! Get that bit right first.

Creatives need to become as multi-skilled as possible. It’s no longer enough to be just an art director or copywriter and nothing else. You need to understand how brands work, brand perception, how users think, educate yourself about TV film production, timetables and costs. Understand clients’ needs and expectations versus what is realistically achievable on their given budget. Where the brand actually is versus where the client thinks it is, and therefore where it’s credibly possible to move the brand to. The possibilities of digital, social media and other channels,  how eco-systems work – and if you don’t know – ask. Don’t be lazy, don’t coast…Find out!

And a good creative director should support them through this learning process.

Creative directors must stay alert. Notice the difference between real ability and talent, and those who are in it for the wrong reasons – but look or act the part. (And to be perfectly honest – perhaps re-educate themselves a bit too. Stop being dinosaurs and get up to speed with all the emerging tech out there.)

Creative directors should nurture talent – and not only those people with Type-A personalitiespay attention to and support those who are maybe a bit shy, too. Those with a quieter voice.

Dig out the hidden gems. Your team will be more balanced, and might even do better as a whole.


Quality control

As a great man one said: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character”.

Well I have a dream that one day, we’ll work in a creative industry where people are judged not by the clothes they wear or colour of their sneakers, but by the content of the ideas!


Written by Anna Tallberg, January 2017

Anna is a freelance concept designer & writer. She hails from London and has worked around the globe on many international brands. She has seen all sides of branding, brand strategy, marketing, design and creative work over a career spanning 17 years.

Anna Siddall