In the last two weeks two creative big wigs have left their agencies to start their own. In each of these cases, and many more, a large institutionalized agency had hired a creative from a smaller creatively driven shop and charged them with turning around the ship.
Unfortunately, I too, was once in that situation. I was charged with energizing one of America's largest digital shops--to make it creative.
Therefore I have, I believe, the experience and insight that allows me to give this advice to those who follow in Montague and Graf's very small shoes. Get your money up front.
Institutions by their very nature are powerful. They wittingly or not, resist change. They are in the self-preservation business. And they will outlast you.
The only way to change an agency is to blow it up. Fire even the people with the great client relationships. Because those people though they are accountable for lots of revenue want to maintain the status quo. Most people do.
In the holding company era the status quo is even more powerful and resistant to change.
Let me repeat.
Get your money up front.