“At a senior executive level, the [advertising] talent pipeline has been starved for decades of diverse talent. And probably a lot of diverse talent has been squeezed out of it so there’s a whole opportunity for the industry to get better on that front.”-Brian Dolan, WorkReduce 

In early July 2021, Brian Dolan joined The Disruptor Series podcast hosts Rob Schwartz (CEO, TBWAChiatDay, NY) and Strategy Director, Asha Davis to discuss how the pandemic has changed the way we work forever -and why that’s a good thing for the advertising industry. 

Brian has been an advocate (since 2014) for the value of remote working and its ability to create a more diverse advertising model. In this podcast episode, Brian connects the dots on how to drive diversity, reduce employee churn and increase profitability by leaning into the power of remote work and a multi-sourced workforce.

The team discuss how the WorkReduce business model came about, and how it’s revolutionizing the way advertising talent is hired, nurtured, retained and utilized to create greater advertising cost-effectiveness for businesses of all sizes.

Rob Schwartz describes WorkReduce as, “a very interesting and extremely relevant business for today’s environment” -find out why.

Notable highlights: 

[02:19] The value of remote work in advertising and how that has changed post-Covid 

Asha Davis: Just speaking of today’s environment – even before the pandemic – Fast Company was reporting that some of the most innovative companies had anywhere between 25%-57% of their teams working remotely. And that those remote workers were sometimes 22% more successful in their initiatives compared to non-remote folks, for example. 

Obviously in a post-Covid world we would expect these numbers to have increased obviously, but WorkReduce has been virtual since Day 1, which is really interesting. And you guys were really an early pioneer in that remote work model, very specifically for creative and ad agencies as well. [I’m] really curious to know how your business has shifted since March 2020? 

Brian Dolan: Sure, well, one big difference is that being remote is no longer a big differentiator for us. So, now I’m competing for the same talent that my clients are coming to me for. So that’s causing us to really look beyond where we’ve been searching for talent in the past, but also to focus back on what is unique about working for WorkReduce and why you might want to work for us instead of going to an agency. 

And for us we can offer people an experience that’s a little bit more like a consulting company where you can go work at a whole bunch of agencies. Instead of having to job hop you get the same experience and get to see a lot of different [work] cultures and maybe find one that’s good for you and end up going to work there. 

A large number of our employees convert to full-time at their agency clients but we’re now [also] starting to look for a more international workforce. And we’re starting to look more closely at training our employees. 

We’re an employee-driven company, this isn’t a freelance marketplace. I think there are a lot of important reasons why people want to be employees as opposed to a freelancer. For some people freelancing is super awesome, for other people it’s a headache. And we’re offering that employee experience. 

So, we’re going international, we’re training people, and when we train people –for example- the feedback we get is phenomenal because this is a talent constrained industry right now. 

[18:30] Discussing the fact that the ad industry is “predominantly white” and has age bias issues.  

Brian Dolan: Studies show that diverse businesses do better – it’s just a fact. It’s nothing to do with any kind of crazy liberal agenda but if you’ve got a diverse way of thinking, diverse backgrounds, it’s gonna work out. Which is why every business of every stripe is pushing for it. 

So, I think if you can work out some of the systemic issues –where you’re hiring from, the type of profile of the person you’re implicitly hiring -if you can work some of that out it opens the aperture and the top of the funnel. And there’s work to be done to connect it. 

[30:00] Advice for in-house marketing CMOs on how they should be staffing for greater efficiency 

Rob Schwartz: CMOs are rethinking this in-house model. Is it under threat? What advice do you have for a CMO on how they should be staffing? What should their in-house model look like now that it’s dying and like roaches agencies have survived? 

Brian Dolan: Agencies are never going anywhere. I think we can all say that. There’s a place for them, especially for large enterprises –large enterprises are allergic to headcount- and that’s why an outsourced model of businesses like mine are prominent in large fortune 500 companies. 

For CMOs, I think in-housing has never really been a fully in-housed model. Almost nobody’s really recreated an entire agency thing in-house. Its always been like, I brought the software contracts in-house and I got this firm pulling the levers. Is that in-housing? -yeh, it’s exercising more control. 

I like to think of in-housing or what’s behind in-housing as an unbundling of the agency model. Agencies are offering this full service thing, so let’s take it apart and take the pieces that we want in-house, it could be really valuable to us. We focus primarily on media buying so we talk to people on that side of it….. Figure out what you’re good at and lean into that. Or, what you inspire to be good at. Lean on an agency for everything else.

Listen and download the full podcast here. 

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