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Creative Series: Fred Richards, The Hive Principle: Show Notes & Transcript

Post | Jun 11, 2024

Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

In this episode, we wrap up our Creative Series interviews with Fred Richards. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!

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Marketing Smarts: Creative Series: Fred Richards, The Hive Principle

In this episode, we wrap up the interviews for our Creative Series, focused on the issues facing creative agencies today and how they need to evolve to stay relevant. Our 10th special guest is Fred Richards, Founder of The Hive Principle. He has over 30 years of experience in the branding industry, and has led creative work for some of the biggest brands in the world. Hear why it’s hard to differentiate agencies these days, why there’s a lack of trust, when to say no to potential clients, why he doesn’t like design awards, and how we can fix our industry. This episode covers everything from branding to awards. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • How have creative agencies changed over the years?
  • Why are clients confused?
  • Where does creativity come from?
  • Why is there a short-term mentality in branding?
  • Where does Fred see hope in the creative industry?
  • Why are agencies fragmented?
  • What’s wrong with a lot of pitches?
  • Quick-Fire: If Fred could sit down for dinner 3 people, who would they be?

And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at:

Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:

Show Notes

  • Creative Series: Fred Richards, The Hive Principle

What is Marketing Smarts?

From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?

Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer. 


Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Fred Richards 0:00
Ask the why first. Why now, why this brand, why this retailer – those kinds of things, but designers aren’t taught those things.

Anne Candido 0:08
This is Marketing Smarts – a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level, and each episode will dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We’ll also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. Now, let’s get to it.

April Martini 0:28
Welcome to Marketing Smarts!

Anne Candido 0:30
I am Anne Candido,

April Martini 0:31
And I am April martini. And today we’re continuing our Marketing Smarts miniseries all around the topic of the issues facing creative agencies today, and how they need to evolve to stay relevant. This series brings together folks from both agency and corporate that all have different point of views on this topic, but are all experienced practitioners and thought leaders with decades of experience. Today we have special guest Fred Richards, who has over 30 years of international CPG experience having held leadership roles at agencies such as Interbrand, Futurebrand, and Brand Union. He is currently the founder of The Hive, which is a brand consultancy, founder of the Speaker Series and the owner of the Chicago Brand Museum. Fred lives and breathes brand and design. And as you’ll hear in the episode, he is a big part of the reason this series even exists. So it’s all too perfect that he brings us home with episode 10 in this 10-part series. We will start by saying this is a bit of a tough love episode. Now, that does not mean that it is to be taken as a downer, but rather than it is meant to call all of us to the mat in order to rise to the expectations our clients have of us. And honestly to prevent them from feeling like they no longer need us. That means that we spend time learning the challenges of their businesses and starting with the why, in order to understand what they really need from us, paired with having the tough conversations on both sides. So that design fits in the infrastructure and is respected as the discipline that it is not to mention some valuable insight on the pitch process and how to better stand out from the competition. At the end of the day, it comes down to strong relationships, which means remembering that we are in the people business serving each other, our clients, and ultimately the end customer or consumer. And if that isn’t enough tune in to hear about how Fred compares the current state of the industry to a sandwich, meaning there’s no meat in the sandwich and the bread is stale. And with that we will get into the issues facing creative agencies today, and how they need to evolve to stay relevant. All right, and Fred, it’s so good to have you today. Please introduce yourself to our guests and talk a little bit about what you do.

Fred Richards 2:31
Certainly. Well, thank you for having me. First of all, so I am Dyfed “Fred” Richards. Everyone knows me as Fred sort of like Madonna or Prince right?

Anne Candido 2:38
Yeah, exactly. Right. Yeah, the Fred. Yeah,

Fred Richards 2:42
Fred. It’s the Fred brand 30 something years now of international CPG brand experience having led three of the world’s largest design agencies across the world as a global exec for Interbrand future brand and brand new union, respectively. That’s IPG WPP and Omnicom Wow. And that’s where I grew up basically, is through that network. The Hive is a traditional CPG brand consultancy, we can do the packaging, as well as the thinking if you will, but there is some nuances in there as well. Plus, if that weren’t enough, I’m the owner, founder of the speaker series, which is a design by invitation only conference that we host here in Chicago. We’re about to host our third one in September, and the owner of the Chicago brand museum here on Michigan Avenue in Chicago as well. You’re not

April Martini 3:33
busy at all, no. Retirement, it

Anne Candido 3:36
sounds like retirement to me. Yeah,

April Martini 3:41
so I mean, this is one, you know, to be really honest with the audience. I mean, this series came to fruition through a lot of conversations that you and I had, and you quite frankly, calling me out on some of the previous episodes and having a different perspective. And so we’ve been looking forward to this as the culmination and just the discussion around very overtly what we’re all seeing as some of the existing challenges in the creative purview, I guess, if you will, the industry in total, which is defined in many, many ways. And so as part of that conversation, we’ll get into lots of different angles today. But I would love for you to first talk about, you gave kind of your, you know, 50,000 foot view of the places you’ve been, which builds instant credibility to the conversation, but talk us through just what comes to mind when we say what has changed and what’s what’s gone or missing, good or bad, you know, just as you think about the entirety of your career, what pops to mind first.

Fred Richards 4:37
So I think one of the important things that I have observed and I want to make sure there’s a caveat to this, before I continue all of these statements or observations are we going to be explained in the spirit of trying to help agencies understand where they fall foul, not to criticize necessarily, although I’m sure it will come across as a criticism And to some, but this really is tough love, I suppose. So in the last year, I have had the fortunate opportunity of being asked by some of my fortune 500 clients to participate, listening, observe agencies as they’re making their credentials presentations as part of pitches to win the business. Prior to doing this, I heard one of the sound bites from many of my clients that it’s very difficult to choose agencies because they can’t differentiate from one to the next, they all look and sound the same. I’ve heard this from John Gleason many times, as well before, and I didn’t really understand that. But now I do. Having seen over 50 agencies in the last 12 months make presentations to clients, I think it probably be easier to list the things that I’ve seen as a series of observations that a vast majority of the agencies that I saw, fell into these traps. The first is coming into the room and almost immediately setting up and starting the presentations, it making introductions themselves, the talking heads, the head shots, for example, without really doing some of the due diligence of being friendly and starting a conversation before you get into the sales pitch, it all seemed a little rushed, and ill prepared and there seems to be like a fire under the pants of some of these individuals. Once you get into the presentation, invariably, slide three, four or five, you’ll see the quilt of logos to validate the experience that we have, which is fine. It’s a little boring, of course. But what I found interesting is how many agencies tried to stretch the truth. on that slide of logos use, for example, you’d see Procter and Gamble’s logo, but then below that, buried in all of the other logos, you’d see something like tide or Old Spice, those kinds of things. And I think the agencies need to make a choice. Is it Procter and Gamble as your clients? Or do you have the opportunity to work on these brands? I think having both on there feels like filler, quite frankly, and a little disingenuous. The other one is irrelevant case studies, very few actually tied a case study to the problem as they understood it from the RFP, which then leads you to believe did the agency actually read the RFP? Or was it just so exciting that our large CPG like that had called them and they just couldn’t wait to get in the door and share their credentials. The same will be true of design award slides, most of which had never heard of, they seem very regional. And it’s great to see that agencies aren’t winning work for their creative, but unless it’s actually driving the business for the clients, I just say decorating quite frankly, the culture video, I think every single agency had a culture video of some kind, some three minutes, it always was way too long series of images of the Halloween costume or the chili cook off, or the holiday Christmas party or some staged images of people laughing pointing at computer screens. And it all just became a blur, quite frankly. And the same will be true of how many companies have a dog policy? It’s great to see all of these months, but does it really matter? And is it going to make the work better? Or is it going to grow the clients business? I think the answer would be no, it doesn’t. It’s a nice to have but wasting time in a business meeting, which is what how there should be conducted the fake work the fake case studies, I think this is something that really, really irked me, quite frankly, where you would see a great piece of packaging work, super creative. And it almost needs to finish there. But then what agencies tend to be doing on mass is then taking those equities and spreading them liberally across a whole bunch of touchpoints, which everybody knows aren’t real that New York Times Square billboard, for example, where the assets have been placed, it’s not even an ad, it’s just the assets have been copied and pasted from the packaging onto that billboard every knows where that image came from. And you’re not really fooling anybody. And yet nearly every agency did it where they were talking about brand experience, etc. When everybody knows on the client side that the agency that is presenting this would never be engaged to actually do any of that work. We’re still when you can see that it’s fake and it’s not real. It all falls on deaf ears, quite frankly, No guts, no glory, no point of view. What I found interesting, as I said, the 50 or so agencies, I think only three provided a point of view of how they would solve the problem or their observations of the category or where the brand might or might not be struggling why the brand had lost its position as a category captain, for example, or how their trademark process was going to be helpful for the brand to grow the grow the business again or get back on top. I find that a huge missed opportunity actually because that’s why all of these agencies do look and sound the same and why clients become portfolio blind and then it becomes a personality selection process or pricing selection process. Sometimes both if you’re lucky The other thing as well to finish off is how many agencies could not close the conversation at the end of the pitches, it’s almost like they ran out of steam, there was no closure, there were no real appropriate thank you as well how to finish a business conversation. And at the same time, were ill prepared, it seemed for questions from the client about the category or the brand that was in question, and had no questions either. And I found that just staggering, quite frankly, because John Gleason mentioned this in his conversation, this needs to be a business conversation, not just to show Intel at a high school, because that’s how many of them felt. And I found the whole thing really disconcerting, and very, very disappointing. And I think agencies can and should do a lot better for themselves to win and control the business, but also be a better partner to their clients.

Anne Candido 10:51
I think I can resonate with a lot of those. I mean, I remember now even being, like flipping from the client side to the agency side, looking and connecting with some of my former agency folks to do work for clients, and actually seeing their credentials and be like, I know, you didn’t work on this. I’m like, how, how can you have this year for your business, like your new agency that you’re in? And say that you worked on tide when I know you didn’t work on tide at this agency? Right. And I think that that it just, it just drives a lot of mistrust. Where I think there’s already a lot of generated baggage of what value does marketing bring? What What value does that even like? How much money should I even allocate for that? How much can I actually prove it actually works. I mean, so even marketing as an art or science or as a practice, is starting, I feel like to erode in the minds of people, especially as you have these like niche agencies coming up saying, oh, you know, you don’t need all this, like general branding and marketing stuff, we can just take care of your social and, you know, we can call it a day. I don’t know if I can be like some of your perspective on how this is kind of manifesting for you, and all of this kind of like drudgery that feels like it’s now attached to branding and marketing?

Fred Richards 12:14
Well, the simple answer to that question is, it’s been great business for me, actually. Clients have been are confused, and they are frustrated in equal measure. Because they’ve been told all of these things by agencies that they say they can do it all. And then they they can’t deliver on their own promises. And I think one of the things that John has talked about in his presentations is, do what you do best and deliver on that promise and have a business conversation first. I’m also a big believer in asking the questions why? In all the presentations I saw over the last 12 months from agencies that quite frankly, should know better. Agencies, I’ve never heard of agencies that talk about all of this experience, and you know, 40 years of legacy, etc. I’ve never heard of you, I’m looking at my rolodex and knowing who, what, and then the touting all of these brands brands that I have worked on. And I’m thinking I’ve never heard, What year was this? You know, that was my client for 10 years. And I’m looking at the work thinking, I don’t even know what that touch point is. And I think that that’s, that’s a fundamental problem of trust. I’m not so sure that answers the question. But I think that’s part of the problem is clients now, who do want to engage with design don’t know where to put it, and they don’t know how to think about it, which is why I think we’re seeing that cycle of clients bringing agencies back inside, that there’s a trend towards that because they can at least manage it. And they can trust it, they can walk down the corridor and give an order and you know, things will be executed without any of the drama.

April Martini 13:49
Well, and I mean, I want to go back to the one one of the pieces of what you said, which is around the business, right. And I think that when I look back at my years and agencies, the ones that I worked for, and with understood the businesses of the clients that they were working on, and the ones that didn’t, we’re the ones that always seemed to be missing the mark. And you’ve referenced John a few times. So I’ll go along with that. And his whole idea of the decoration station and not wanting to kind of fall into that category. But I think, to your point earlier about, I wish some of the stuff was snuffed out, that’s one of the places that I actually do see getting worse. And I think it is partially because these agencies are popping up and they can do the tactics, right. I can do your social media, I can build your website, I can, you know, all of those things. And so I would love your perspective on the business understanding. Are you seeing any of that anywhere? Is there any light, you know, I mean, there’s us right sitting here and saying we want to fix this part of the series. But what about that piece? Because I think it’s always been a struggle. And all the years I’ve been in agency, it’s it happens to varying degrees.

Fred Richards 14:56
Yeah, there’s two answers to that one, and I’ll make a joke about the first answer which Here’s the last place you want, Fred Richards is in finance. It’s just not a good idea, right? I know my lane and I’ll stay in my lane. But having grown up through the large agencies that are owned by the WPP, right, who behave in a certain way, you are taught business first, it happens to be designed, but you’re taught business first. And you’re also taught very early on the demands that are on a client of how they get product to market, the kinds of conversations that they’re going to be having with their suppliers, their retailers, purchasing strategies, etc. The smaller agencies, the mortgage, they’re not aware of a lot of those things. They believe that design can save the day. It has a role, of course, but it’s not the be all and end all of the conversation. And I think that’s part of the myths as well. The other thing is, and John did mention it. So maybe we should just caveat everything that John Gleason said, let’s go and watch that pocket runs listen to that podcast. In all seriousness, from my experience, having worked for smaller, independent agencies as well, you hear the CEO, for example, talking to a marketing director about how they need to, you know, do this kind of strategy or this kind of business model, and you’re kind of looking at the guy across the table thinking, you can barely balance your own checkbook, dude, we’re almost bankrupt. And you’re telling a billion dollar brand, what they should be doing? Are you kidding me? I saw that so many times working for the smaller independents. And that I think, creates a vacuum. And it goes back to that trust and the credibility thing, again, the days of the big budgets and agencies praying, fingers crossed, that those big budgets and those days will come back. It’s a pipe dream, we all know it’s gone. And the model that the bigger holding companies have created for themselves. That’s why they’re struggling right now. And that’s why they keep folding in on each other, you know that they’re not going out acquiring new agencies anymore. They’re cannibalizing themselves, and literally eating themselves. I won’t name any of them, but you can do your own homework, you’ll see some one, I think is now one of the holding agencies that used to be five. And now it’s one. What if you had a client that bought one of those five, you know, did the whole procurement process etc? And now they’re being told, Well, no, it’s over here. But wouldn’t you ask a question? What’s the benefit for me as a client, it’d be one of the first questions, they don’t think that way. And the same is true of the of the junior or smaller design agencies trying to talk about in a manner that they just can’t do. But I actually think that’s a bigger problem in North America. I don’t think it’s true necessarily in Europe, although it might be is the vacuum of opportunity of strength and depth, if you will, of agencies in North America. When I first came here, in 95, to Chicago, there were 30 or 40, CPG focused design agencies in Chicago. It was amazing. Absolutely incredible. They’re all gone. All of them. And that’s within half of the lifespan of a career. They’ve gone. Right there. There’s no There’s no real not like Cincinnati, there’s no design agency system here in Chicago anymore. Advertising design. But within that, if you if you look at the mechanism of acquiring from the not from the Big Four, so WPP IPG, Omnicom and publicists is they they’ve bought out the top. And with that, there’s no, there’s no meat in the sandwich anymore. And I think that’s really, really bad for clients as it is as much for the industry. Because you need the big boys at the top. To give you scale, you need the big independents with multiple offices, you need the regional folks as well, you need the medium size, you need the small and in the boutiques, you need that ranking. Now, what you’re seeing is it’s just the big boys who created a problem for themselves of how they built their financial model. And you’ve got the small folks on the bottom that are trying to get to those bigger projects at the top, but don’t have the scale to get there. And if you look at the likes of Largo, uh, you know, I’ll just use them as an example because they don’t exist anymore as one. I mean, think about Cincinnati in Chicago, the size of those offices back in the day, there were massive. Yeah, absolutely ginormous. And it’s gone. Yeah. And I think that’s tragic. Because, you know, having worked in April, you’re not you and I can joke about this one, you know, working at Interbrand, for example. Interbrand kind of had a chip on his shoulder, when it came to GE, right. You know, LPK and landour. Special in Cincinnati. They’re the beautiful children where they were the ugly duckling kind of a thing. I kind of like that. Actually. I liked your time. Right. Okay. roll up the sleeves. We’re going to show you you know, what we’re what we’re really capable of. But at the time, you were constantly measuring yourself against the competition. Yeah. And at the same time, you’d look at a piece of work from a vendor and you’d go, oh, that’s actually really good. You know, wow, you know, and phone calls have happened. I know Mary’s already well, she’s phenomenal. Oh, Jerry, Catherine LPK is another one go? You know what? That’s great. Right? All of that has gone. Now it’s so competitive and divided. It’s, it’s just not good. And it’s not good for clients either. I think so there’s no meat in the sandwich and the bread is stale. Yeah.

Anne Candido 20:18
It’s sad to think about the process of things. But it’s not a surprise, right? I mean, I could see it coming, even when I was in the P&G days, because I got an opportunity to work across a lot of these agencies from an abandoned land or two, you name it. And the dynamic that had that happened a time. And I would love for your, your thoughts on this is, even if the agencies were, quote, unquote, creative. The clients really didn’t want that at the end of the day. Right? They wanted you to give them what they wanted, in order to go deliver what they felt like they needed that was in their heads. And so they’d always brief Oh, be very creative. Show me something I’ve never seen before all of those things. But then when shows like, oh, no, we can’t do this too far from our brand standards, it’s breaking too much of the brand toolkit, you know, you name it, or it’s too hard to manufacture, it’s too hard to make. And I mean, the world is different now with regards to digital content, but if you’re thinking about kind of like physical things, and just that, that creative realm, I felt like it was a lot of even like, if the agency wanted to be creative, the client wasn’t really accepting that. And so that was always come to be an elemental, I think till the agency just kind of gave up and said, Fine, here, you want this, we’re just gonna give you what you want. Because we’re never going to get paid until it’s what you want. If you already and this is what you want, then here you go. That seems to been one world. And I wonder what your thoughts are on that. Now, there seems to be also another world, which is I don’t really care about brand. Like if you think about all the short term, and John talked about this, Jimmy talked about this. I mean, a lot of guys and girls talked about this, which is the short term mentality of I need to deliver something now almost makes brand irrelevant. In their minds, right? And so why should I invest in building a brand? What do I need a brand for, for a tech company, I’m going to build this thing up based on my SAS capabilities, and then I’m going to sell it in like a couple of years, make a billion dollars, and I’m gonna go off on my next thing, or you name it. I mean, I mean, we work a lot in the nonprofit space in the nonprofit space is very similar. It’s like, what do I need a brand for? I have my costs, or, you know, I just am a b2b business, I sell a bunch of services. I mean, what do I need a, you know, a brand for? So those are the kind of the two worlds that I’m really seeing manifested? And I’m just kind of wondering, is that what you’re seeing? What do you tell me what you’re thinking about that? There’s

April Martini 22:44
a lot in that that’s some packet, I’m actually going to quote you and throw up from one of the podcasts. I’m not exactly sure who you send it to. But this idea of holding the knowledge to ransom.

Anne Candido 22:54
Oh, I did say that.

April Martini 22:56
Don’t quote her. Her ego is big enough as it is. I loved

it, actually. Because I think that goes both ways. agencies that do it to clients. You know, if you pay us we’ll let you know this little insight. But it’s also true of clients not giving a proper brief, yet, amen. Amen. And I say to my clients, and I’ve been saying it for a very long time, you know, thank you for this opportunity. But I’m not telepathic. Right? This brief looks the same as every other brief I’ve ever read. Right? Other than saying make my logo bigger, what do you want me to do? You know, I make a joke about it. If for those of us that are old enough to remember Polaroid cameras, but if there was such a thing, that were a button inside a client, seeing that you could press an a picture that you could tear off and go, Oh, that’s what this brief looks like, then I think we’d be in a lot better place because only if only right, Andrew Barrett left the GSK is to say that designers listen with their eyes. And I’ve always liked that as a quote, because they do because here’s, here’s the reality of it. And it’s a dirty secret for the industry. But I’ve been saying it for a long time, is designers don’t read. I know it’s a generic. It’s a big sweeping statement. I understand it. But because the briefs has now become so generic because the information, the real information has been held to ransom by the client. Because the client doesn’t want to divulge to the agency Well, if we don’t do this, Walmart’s gonna delist us. And that’s a business conversation. That’s the real brief. Right? Right. Not just can you make it pretty? And I’ll tell you when I like it when I see it kind of a response which then goes to all the things I’ve heard in your podcast is this idea of relationships matter. Ask the why first, why now why this brand why this return those kinds of things, but designers aren’t taught those things. Because to the Chris Wallen interview is the gatekeeper the account folks are such a filter and if they are transactional, or they have no personality or they’re the wrong person in the wrong role for the wrong time for the wrong client, you know, there’s so many long as the then that information is held to ransom as well. The same is true of strategy. You know, I’ve met two kinds of strategists in my career. The first ones are the ones that live in their own heads.

Anne Candido 25:14
Right? Definitely.

April Martini 25:17
Yeah, exactly. You know, they’re like professors at universities bodies are, you know, a vehicle to get their heads to meetings, you know. And then the other ones are the ones that truly understand it, that empathetic, they get it, they want to make the work better. Sometimes they’re frustrated designers, or they came from the account side, but they can see both sides of the coin, and they are brilliant. And they will teach you while you’re doing it. But the same is true of designers that I find that they fall into two camps. They are the ones that are so sensitive, so pricy. They think it’s all about, you know, the latest effect or, you know, AI or whatever it happens to be, or the latest soundbite is, and you’ve heard it yourselves. How can we give the creative director the feedback? Yep. Right. Oh, yeah. Really? We’re still having that conversation. That’s pathetic. Oh, well, he’s gonna get really upset. I don’t care. You’re gonna have to do the work again. I don’t care. We didn’t hit grief. I don’t care. That’s the job. It’s the I use restaurants as an example. Only because when it came to Chicago, the six guys I shared an apartment with all in the restaurant trade, running big, big, big restaurants here in Chicago, listening to how a restaurant operates. You know, and if the steaks not cooked, right, we’ve all done it. You send it back. Yeah,

Anne Candido 26:31
absolutely. Right. You don’t hear that?

April Martini 26:35
Right, exactly. It wasn’t. I asked for a filet mignon, medium rare. And you gave me swordfish, because it’s Fisher the season you like, what is going on? And agencies do that all the time? Yeah. You know, and they think they’re gonna get away with it. The same is true of you know, and I’ve never understood this receive a brief say thank you do all the polite head nodding the account person does their thing. The strategist throws out some sound bites to make every everybody sounds smart. While they age, lead creative looks moody in the corner. doesn’t write you know, that meeting we’ve all bought into. And you’re thinking to yourself worth is going through the client’s mind right now. Everybody leaves. And then for two weeks from the agency silence. The agency doesn’t understand that the client is wondering what on earth is going on time and money has been spent or wasted? Sometimes both. And then the agency comes up and says things like, Well, we know we got the brief, but we’ve decided we want to go in this direction. Surprise, jazz happens. You didn’t answer the brief, you’ve wasted two weeks, I’d got Walmart banging on the door, they need an answer. And then what happens you then get the B team and then you’ll get the C team, then it’s a bad client, then you’ll hear sound bites from the creators, we should fire the client. You Do you know how we make money? How we keep the lights on here. But you hear all the time. And we’re like, because there’s truth in the joke. And I’m saying so to answer your question. I’m seeing more and more of that kind of behavior and with what my clients are asking me to do. And these are big fortune 500 clients, by the way, you know, not talking about small folks. And I’m blown away by some of the thinking in the behavior. And I’ll give you an example from a very, very recent one I just completed in February 12 agencies were invited in it was them, which I think is too many. That means you agree is time and I gave the client that feedback. It went down to six before I provided my report. And for those folks that know me I’ve ever seen me present. I am notorious for a 600 page PowerPoint presentation, I just can’t help myself, right. There’s no editing skills whatsoever. In this particular case, the PowerPoint was only 12 pages. And I caught myself. I know it’s a nice bread. And I said I it’s only 12 pages because I can’t make it more than 12 pages. And here are the headlines. I have copies of the decks. So I did screen grabs so it’s keeping myself and the client honest. And it kind of fell into three categories, if you will. The first was here’s the quilt of logos. Now of these six agents, does that mean that you pick them? These are your choices. Your your procurement team has gone out there and families agencies to other incumbents so you know these people are so can you identify which agency belongs to which let’s have the Sesame Street game pillow. Donkey couldn’t do it. Okay, next page was the headline if you will and what makes the agency different? were different because TM right there’s always a TM somewhere. Yeah, that matters. It’s got to be protected. Of course, you know, the bowtie or the filter or the funnel or whatever it is. And of the six, four had the word agile on the slide. Well, you more agile than them, or are they more is your agile different from their agile seriously. So the marketing, sound bites are there. And then the one that got me the most, and it really, really upset me. And I’m still kind of upset about it to this day is two agencies presented the same case study slide the slide. Wow, now one of those agencies did the work, right. They were they were commissioned to do the work, they did the work. And the other agency clearly hired somebody from set agency brought them over reskin the deck, that was the integrity, right, where even the sandwiches, uh, hey, look, we’re showing you this because, you know, Suzy led the work or whatever it was, and she’s proud of it. And, you know, it’s relevant to something we’re doing dot dot dot know. So I said, it’s a bit like dealing with your children, the window is broken. And no, one of you did it. Right. You know, it’s like, really, this is where we are. It was it was incredible to me. And that’s how bad things are to answer your question. And it’s that bad.

Anne Candido 31:18
Yeah, and I think too, for some reason, though, the reputation does not precede these agencies, though, because they continue to get sought after, and they continue to get the work, which is very interesting to me that the whole industry can suffer. But the agencies you’re causing some of the pain don’t seem to be suffering, or do you see it differently? No,

April Martini 31:45
I don’t see it differently, I think that there’s, there’s a, there’s another layer to that, which is the work is still got to be done. Right, brands have got to move forward, right, the packaging has to change the foot, you know, the world keeps changing, the world keeps evolving, and the industry has to keep moving forward. It same thing is true of restaurants, again, like I keep using that metaphor, I think it’s a good one. And I think that’s part of the window dressing problem. And when you look at QSR restaurant that are predominately red and yellow, right, that’s what you know, you know, you’re gonna get value for money cheap and fast and in and you’re out either in your car or in some kind of plastic furniture. If you look at a high end Italian or state restaurant, you know what you’re gonna get, and you know what the value for money is going to be. And you know how you’re supposedly going to experience it, either with a significant other, or as a family celebration or something, you know, you’re going to have to open your checkbook and pay a significant amount of money and expect to be treated that way. So many agencies show up as that fine dining experience, where they’re really selling cheap burgers. And they’re not being honest with themselves. But that’s what they are. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, there’s a lot of money to be made, if that’s what you are, but don’t sell me filet mignon, when you can only deliver a wrapped burger at best. And that’s the experience I’m going to get. And that’s why so in so many of these presentations, unfortunately, is that kind of smoke and mirrors, quite frankly. So

Anne Candido 33:13
then what about the other side? The other part of that question, which was, what about all these people who don’t even think they need a brand? Well, first of all,

Fred Richards 33:20
I want to know what role they’re in. Really? Are you the CEO? Okay, we have a far bigger problem design is not going to solve? I

Anne Candido 33:29
bet we hear it all the time, do we not? I mean, we hear it all the time. What do I need a brand for?

Fred Richards 33:34
I think that the same could be true of, we don’t need marketing, you don’t need all of these kinds of things. Again, I would ask that very, very basic question, then what role are you in? And what kind of organization are you? That goes to the what and why? That’s one of the beautiful things about the time I had in Cincinnati. I swore to God, I was only going to go there for three years and 10 years later, I was still there thinking What on earth happened? You know? But I did learn a great deal and the first time at p&g there, who am I what am I why am i right? For you, it was just, you know, Moses coming off the mountain kind of a moment for me, and I was pretty seasoned at that point. And I wanted to learn more and more and more. And I think that the one pager that you mentioned earlier, was really really powerful because you knew where you were, you knew where you stood, you knew who to talk to, you knew how to build a relationship because of that one piece of paper, and the formula was there but from a brand perspective, such question that was led from the top ag Lafley designs me part of the mix, here’s why. Meet Claudia Kafka. And if you can’t meet Claudia, here’s Elizabeth Olsen, right. That’s kind of how it worked. And he knew what to do. And you knew what the mechanism was. I asked the other questions which is okay, the WHO THE what those simple png questions but what about the other three questions, the where, the how, and the when? Right of The consumer standing ping. So if you don’t ask the question about the roles of brands and do you need a brand is will you start with those questions first? Why do you think that you don’t? What do you mean? And that was part of my training Interbrand is just keep asking the open questions until they say something that will have to trip themselves up not to be mean. But for them to answer their own question, really. Because I think that’s also important. And that’s where I think the industry is broken. And I hand on heart I did it last week, is sometimes saying no to a client. Oh, yeah, you’re not right. client came to me with a with a phenomenal opportunity. But that’s just not my wheelhouse. But I know an agency in Dayton that is phenomenal at that. And I’ll make an introduction for you. Well, you know, what, what would you find is Phoebe, you know, it’s the right thing to do. I don’t want a finder’s fee. These people are amazing. They can do that job. And, you know, pass it on. And that’s, again, like I mentioned about Mary’s earlier. And then back in the day, you know, we grew great relationships, because we were able to have those conversations, and I respected them and trusted them.

April Martini 36:08
Yeah, I mean, there’s so many things in that my brain is going all over. First of all, my brain is stuck in the what kind of strategies was April and I’m a little scared.

Anne Candido 36:18
Because I didn’t sit there saying that to him. Like when I was like, April, it was like,

April Martini 36:23
I’m gonna have a heart attack here with,

Fred Richards 36:25
I think, you know, we wouldn’t have in this conversation. If you’re in column A, I

April Martini 36:29
know. But I actually did get really scared. So you can still keep me on my toes after all these years.

Fred Richards 36:39
But that’s another point. Let’s jump, let’s jump on that one for a second. keeping each other on their toes. I think that’s also important about the culture of agencies as well. And being able to have honest conversations, you have a great account person that brings a great briefing, because we’ve got the relationship, you come up with a wonderful strategy, a big idea, and Aha. And then creatives go to town and they do it, and then it can’t be executed. Because it’s going to cost 10 times more, or you write all those things have got to work together. And as you well know, Intagram, back in the day, because of the healer, failed legacy, start with production first. Absolutely. Give the designers a file that is production ready. So they’re not running off and picking Pantone colors that they can’t be using anyway, and be creative within those confines, then go back to account, then be smart, and then finish it. Yeah.

April Martini 37:27
But I think I mean, and I’ll just continue that thread for a second. Because I always talk about how that moment in time and that experience it Interbrand. And, Fred, we’ve talked about this one young folks ask where to go for it? How do I replicate what you did, I don’t have anywhere to direct them. But I do think that the beauty of that was, we didn’t just say that we had strategy, account design and production in the same room, we actually always did that. And everybody knew their role in that. But there was also the openness to anyone bringing the ideas to the conversation, and enough respect, and also willingness to admit when we didn’t know certain things, right. Like, I remember being a baby and working with creative directors that were 10 years older than me, but still being just as respected in that room as the strategy component, because I was responsible for parts of what we were doing. And I think, for me, some of the stress that I feel when I look at some of the agencies that still exist, and obviously I still sit very much in Cincinnati and have a lot of these conversations with folks is that infrastructure isn’t there anymore, and the relationships aren’t there anymore. And so I feel like when I look around, at the people, we still love that are trying to hold it all together. And the people that are trying to enter the industry, there’s a fragmentation, even in that agency experience that I’m not sure how to advise people on so I would love some thoughts on that, because we have the luxury of pulling the best of the best because we are only the two of us. And we don’t hire anybody else. So we go and seek them out and pull them in. But outside of that, I mean, what do you do? Well,

Fred Richards 39:08
now you’ve got a passion project right there. It’s something I’ve done for a long, long time. And so I’m really proud of the legacy and the consistency. While some of my comments might be inflammatory to some people, tough, it will be my answer to that, right. I’m still incredibly optimistic and passionate about this industry. No two ways about it. And it’s easy to point fingers, etc. But it’s our job to fix it. And hell bent on fixing it, quite frankly, which is why I set up the speaker series last year. And it was it’s been great. Maybe we’ll talk a little bit more about that in a moment. But I’m also giving up my time for SCAD and Miami Ad School to help this next generation who’s coming through understand the industry that they are being told they’re going into that doesn’t exist anymore. Yes. Right. We have that responsibility as elder statesman people experienced right, whatever we want to call it You know, grand wizards, I’m not exactly sure whatever, I probably fall into that category, right and bald and gray. And I’m not gonna stop. Don’t call me Gandalf. Okay. But I think that that’s the important part is that this industry has got to come together in some way, shape or form. There’s no unity anymore. A lot of the Oxford rules have fallen away. And I think that’s a real shame. But if we’re not having these kinds of conversations on this podcast, as one example to get it out there, then shame on us, quite frankly, because I do not want to be in a place as a legacy to say, well, you ruined it for us. You’re the generation that spoiled that they offered your chair at the table, and it was squandered. We have to convince these these marketing folks, and you’ve seen the headlines in the in the marketing press lately, even cmo roles are in question right now. Well, that so that is a demonstration right there. If that is the case, then design is in big trouble. Because also one of the jokes I’ve made is where clients don’t even know where to put design. Yes, right. Oh, yeah, we’ve talked about this as a function, right? They know exactly where HR belongs, they know where finance belongs, they know where r&d belongs. Right? You know, where procurement belongs, everybody else has a role in the place. But you’ll hear so many times we’ll design now reports here, well, design is going to be split into two and it’s going to be x really. And I you know, again, I make a joke about it is designed still has a discipline, there are rules at play for design, great design, you should almost see that the puddle the visual idea in the solution, right, the aha moment speaks for itself. And once you’ve learned on a great brand, you can never forget it. So there’s a discipline to that kind of thinking. But when I’m challenged by folks in other departments, what what I say to them, especially finance people is well how would you feel if I looked at your spreadsheet and say, You know what, I think a two would look prettier in that column. And let’s do the 96, that column, right? You’re laughing? You’re like, Well, no, Fred, that there’s mine is the same. You know, picking a Pantone color or font or, you know, making this hierarchy or figuring this out that there’s a discipline to it. So please have some respect, respect what I do, because I respect what you do. And let’s work together. The pictures and the numbers and the words and the pictures have got to go together. So again, it goes back to what I said earlier, and is how do you visualize the brief. And that history is really, really important. And that’s one of things that drives me crazy with the industry that we’re in is when a new design goes to market? Where agencies tear each other down? Oh, that’s rubbish. We could have done that, you know, but it’s really, really. And you don’t see other folks doing that to each other, you don’t see very many other industries doing that. And I’ll just be craftsmen, they’ll see the plumbing industry doing it. Right? Well, I can fix that pipe a lot better, you know. And the same thing with the way that clients treat plumbers, you would never bring three plumbers to your house to bid it out. While there’s times right and say, by the way, I’m only going to pay the one that fixes it to my satisfaction, I’ll let you know when I think the leak is fixed. Plumbers will tell you, right, yeah, but because we don’t have the discipline as an industry to behave that professionally. That’s where it falls down. And we have a lot to learn, I think. And the only way that we can do that now is by going back to the universities working with universities and this young generation to help them because we know what the mistakes are. And I own it, you know, I made a lot of those mistakes. I was responsible for a lot of those mistakes. But that I think that’s where we started talking people. I think the conversations, the podcasts I heard were wonderful by brilliant, brilliant people. But they were talking about it, in my opinion from a perfect world standpoint. And it’s been that perfect for a very long time. Decades, in fact,

April Martini 43:53
well, I mean, I think to the earlier point, if it was we would still be back in that hay day. Right, right. Well,

Anne Candido 44:00
I also think there’s an appreciation that has been lost for the art of design, whether you’re talking words or you’re talking visuals, I feel like and we talked about this with with Kyle a bit and some of the others is like the proximity that people have now to the actual tangible outputs doesn’t feel as mystical as it once was, and what it once did. And so when me and April got together, one of the funny stories we tell each other is like I’m not I’m not actually an humble person by any kind of major so I’m just not like I feel like what I put out there is pretty damn good. And so when I pulled APR as a part of like, I knew she had value to add, but I wasn’t exactly sure what values are. So well I’m gonna give you I’m gonna give you kudos here in a second. So like, you know, we would sometimes we would take stabs at like creating something right and I would create something called a deck or a piece of like visual whatever, my kid is pretty pretty darn good. I’m like, Alright, I’m gonna let’s see what April has to think I don’t understand how she’s gonna make this any better, but I’m gonna let her like take a look at it right? Being the actual expert in visual, and so I’d pass it over to her. And she would be like, Oh, no, no, no, this and then yeah. And I’m like, Alright, we’re kind of splitting hairs here, aren’t we? And then she would send it back and like, Ah, it’s better. Damn, I’m like, No, this thing’s I can’t even process and see because I’m not trained in the art of actually being able to see it and understand it. And even like simple things like spatial awareness, Bond, like sizes, colors, and how the colors kind of go together. I mean, she’s kind of taught me a little bit. So now I’m a little dangerous. But I mean, just being able to like, understand and be like, Oh, I understand why these things now are so good, and why they’re better, even if I can’t articulate it. And it’s the same thing with words, copy is the same way and me and April gone back and forth on copy. And you can be creative, highly creative from a copy standpoint, too. And so I feel like there is a an art that people just aren’t appreciating anymore, that you can look at it. And you know that it’s good. But I think sometimes the definition of what’s good gets skewed. And I also think that in terms of who can make it good, would be because they can articulate and they can actually see it is actually a much smaller group of people than everybody tends to think. And I feel like if we can respect people for that, that would help us to be able to achieve a whole lot better work. Is that right? English wise, a whole lot better word, wow, let’s go with it. And then be able to really see some of these like highly creative agencies and ones that are still really embracing the art of design, whether it’s again, visual content, really start rising to the top versus kind of being blocked down by maybe because that work is actually kind of cost money, because those people are highly valued, and they are really good. But I also think it’s the other side of like, we’ve lost a definition and teaching people. What is good, what is good. I mean, people look at a lump of fiber, and they’re like, yeah, it’s good enough. And I mean, in further, like untrained eye, who’s like approving it fine. But there is this element of this consumer, the customer, and they see it differently. And there’s things that they just intuitively look for that only these people who are really trained in this understand. And those are those that are coming together that actually makes it worse. So I feel like we’ve lost a lot of that.

Fred Richards 47:25
I couldn’t agree more, we gave a lot of it away. Lazy thinking commoditized it. Yeah, exactly. And again, the leaders of design companies, that should have been nowhere near that design conversation, quite frankly, because they saw it as an opportunity in a cash cow. And for a period of time it was but it’s ruined it for everybody. I think that the other part of it. And it’s us, one of the things that I’ve been passionate about for a long time only because it was the way I was trained and taught is this idea of wet room dry room. And what I mean by that is a dry room is what most design studios have become its designers behind a Mac printing a Xerox, you know what anybody can have that. And it’s the old adage, you could sit a monkey in front of a typewriter, and eventually or write a great play write. The same thing if you know of a designer in front of a Mac, if I teach you how to use Photoshop or Illustrator, whatever it is, you’ll get there eventually, especially if I give you the kit of parts from the client, you’ll make the logo bigger, you can do it. But a wet room where you take all of that technology away, and the asking the person to bring their own computer with them, which is between their ears, their own brain, that’s a different conversation. That’s a different kind of training, because that’s where designers start designers start out as a child that has the ability to draw, make marks on a piece of paper, send a signal down their arm, make a stroke, and somebody says to them innocently, Wow, you’re really good at drawing now and let you know and they’re encouraged to keep that that skill going. And then that language then goes to not only good at drawing Did you know you could go to art college? What did you know, this could be a profession. And your your world changes forever. Right? If you’re good enough to go to the but that skill is inherent with a designer, they think create, they think differently. You know, like, like I said earlier with underbara line. But the other thing is with that and the lazy thinking, and I think the quote you again is the clients don’t want to be in the room. I think one of the mistakes of Interbrand, back in the days we became so workshop heavy, right? Is that that that you create your own fog of war. There has to be a balance there between how do you identify great ideas, and I’ve always been a big fan of giving everybody that chance to have their five minutes, son, you know, I don’t care if you draw a stick figure on a post it note and say that’s Madonna again, it may I write a giant game of Pictionary. I got it. Okay, Madonna. Wow. And I’ve never thought about that. Tell me more. Because one of the things I’ve also said, even though I, you know, I go back to the question, April, which is, you know, how do you get this next generation? How do you teach? I’ve been incredibly fortunate through my career to have some amazing mentors, who have been able to box package up contain control the Fred Richardson of me, right, right, I get it. And I wouldn’t wish that job on anybody, I really

April Martini 50:30
channel it. And then exactly, I

Fred Richards 50:33
understand that part of it, and more power to them for recognizing and being able to do it. But I want to do the same thing for other folks as well either to shake their bottle up and pop the cord to say, No, now’s the time to do it. For the for the more shy folks. And then at the same thing with the folks that you need to control, but also in that, and the personalities, things that you and the relationships that you guys have been talking about in other podcasts is I say to folks in interviews, if they’re going to be a designer, for me, is what I happen to believe, is that 10 More Fred’s is probably the best answer, I don’t need you know, it. Actually, that’s a great idea. 10 more friends we’re doing. I also happen to know that’s the worst idea ever. I’m smart enough to know that, in fact, sometimes one thread is too much. I get that part as well. But then at the same time, how would you get folks with the tenure, the time, the experience to be in the room, regardless of the function to identify those ideas, no matter where they live? Because if you see the D DBA report that came out the other week, 86% of clients in that report, that’s the number 86% of clients no longer believe that creative ideas only come from the creative department and giving it away. That’s how much we’ve given it away. Yeah.

Anne Candido 51:51
Well, and I also think, to that point, though, creativity is an attribute, not a role. And I think to some extent, we’ve kind of arbitrarily assigned creativity to certain people who have the role of with creative in it. And we forget to the point that we’ve just been all been talking that creativity is generated through energy that’s created from people who have bring different points of view to the table. Right?

Fred Richards 52:17
That was the beauty of the wet room. And the wet room thing is anybody can have an idea. It’s just how do you organize it? Where do you place it? Are you just answering the brief? Make the logo bigger? Or is it such a crazy idea that we would never dare show it to the client in this meeting yet? But actually, that now allows me to do this. And I think that’s the other thing about the industry. And the creative process, is, as I mentioned, earlier, agencies tearing each other’s work down, I just don’t understand it. I really struggled with it. But at the same time rather than an April, you’ve been in many workshops with me, and it’s part of my briefing in a workshop is when somebody does something in this context for a lot of people it’s this is really nerve. This is nerve racking experience. Yeah. Just step outside the comfort zone, rather than when an idea is created sniggering with your friends. Well, that will never work. And that’s a stupid idea. Oh, can you see what she did this time? You know, those kinds of things? If you’re so smart, and so clever, then fix it. And then you have to fix it in front of everybody else. Smarty pants? No, if you’re so clever, if it’s so wrong, so broken, so let’s not do that to each other. Because that’s what that’s where the stories are. That’s where the legacies are. That’s where the brand building is. There the moments that people remember, in their careers when that moment happened to enable everybody to get to the next step. person said this, they scribbled it down. Someone said, What is that Madonna? Oh, my goodness, that’s amazing. And that then enables the next big idea to keep going.

Anne Candido 53:48
Yeah, as long as you don’t power dot Howard, that’s the killer.

Fred Richards 53:53
I have a big issue with power dots. That was That was definitely one of the P&G I was you’ve got to be kidding me. This is

Anne Candido 54:01
to participate. That’s gonna happen. Everybody’s gonna vote for the craziest stupidest ideas and nobody could do. Yeah.

Fred Richards 54:09
Well, I would draw parallel to power dotting so we all know that the power daunting problem, but the same thing was true of feedback. Still to this day, because that happened to me last week. Okay, you finishing the meeting, let’s go to the feedback start to the lowest ranking member. It goes all the way around, right? It’s the same thing as power dotting.

Anne Candido 54:26
Yeah, it is April talks about this all the time. You feel so bad for them. It was like it was a rite of passage everybody to move up on the rink. You felt so much better about everything and you know, the marketing director agree with you. You’re like, yes. There were scores to be kept on that. Cheese.

April Martini 54:47
Yeah. Well, using our powers for good, not evil. Yes, that’s up to the interpreter. All right. Well, we have talked a ton of stuff and we’re, you know, now we’re in I feel like we could go day He’s on this whole discussion. Sure. But I would love Fred, just kind of like you said, and I, you know, part of the reason that you’re here is not is to be the naysayer, yes. Okay, that’s fair, but really is because of the passion for the industry. And so I would love to continue or to kind of encapsulate the whole conversation like, where do you see hope? You know, we talked about the up and comers and our role, and I agree with you to step in and help them but, you know, where do you see like, Oh, this is this part is getting it right. Or I believe that if we continue along this way, we’ll get it or you know, what is it?

Fred Richards 55:38
That is a loaded question and a big one, I think, I have hope, because of who we are. As a species, we are always creative to endpoint and right, it doesn’t live in one place and live in all of us. And the way that the world has fundamentally changed in the last five years, gives me great cause for hope. And things like AI and all of the tools that are available to us means that there is a future, it is positive, it’s the behaviors behind the use of the tools that are the problem. And the design industry has a lot of growing up to do. It still feels like a petulant teenager, quite frankly, most of the time. And I’m embarrassed by it. However, if it can grow up, and that’s the responsibility of all of us to be a bit more disciplined. And when a client says, Can you do this for free? The answer is no. Just know that some of the simple things that can do it, from a housekeeping perspective, will help us all better to talk about how the world has changed in the last five years, consumers were given something during the pandemic that they’d never been given before. And that was time. And we all changed every single one of us, we reform the world around us. So people change the jobs to low salaries, change brands, you know, we all did it, right. Because we had to, yeah, okay. Well, to me, that’s an opportunity for the industry right now. Because so many things have been have been changed. And if brands or consumers or owners of businesses say, Well, why do we need to brand to that point? That’s an opportunity for me? That goes back to the answer to one of the first questions is I’m really busy right now. It’s actually really, really exciting again, and actually, it can’t just be about aesthetics. And you know, do you like Helvetica, and, you know, what’s, what’s the Pantone color of the, okay, there’s nothing more dull than designers talking to designers about design, Lord, give me strength. Which is why I don’t believe in design awards and those kinds of things. I don’t enter them. When people ask me about them, and I said, Well, I’ve yet to see a brief from a client. And by the way, KPI number three is can you win a design award for yourself? Because that will be great. We would love you to do that. And then use our assets all over your website, talk about this design award that you want. There’s no ROI built into our business. Right? Yep. Oh, yeah. We’re still having those conversations. And then that’s, that’s where I always then get dragged into this negative Nancy thing. If you could just let go of some of those things and be more united as a industry. That would be a birthday moment for me, that’s for sure. Awesome, exciting. That’s why I can’t see where the industry can’t see that.

April Martini 58:18
Okay, there’s opportunity everywhere. We just have to take it. That’s my motto. Okay, so before we wrap up, we have three quickfire questions which have nothing to do with this conversation. So I’ll start with an easy one for you. I know drink of choice.

Fred Richards 58:35
I’ll call the Kelowna alcoholic. alcoholic.

April Martini 58:40
Guinness, non alcoholic coffee. Yeah. Yep. Very similar. If you could sit down to dinner with three people who would they be

Fred Richards 58:49
Madame Clicquot, Veuve Clicquot? She, what a badass. Oh, my goodness, I just, yeah, that would be a great one. A really obvious one, just Winston Churchill, but not for the for the obvious things that most people that just how he was so quoted, he was a individual that was able to sit on both sides of the fence, and he did he represented labour and the Tories. And if you think about that, as a politician in today’s world, to be able to jump and jump back, and also a man that in a time of need during the war was a phenomenal leader, but a time of reconstruction was an absolute failure. And I would like to know more about that, and how we how we manage that. And a third would be a child. That old adage that should be so easy, an eight year old should understand it. I would like to know an eight year old would understand from that conversation of those other two people sitting there. I’d like to hear that that observation because I think that that’s again goes much further saying that we have a responsibility for this next generation.

April Martini 59:55
I have one you can borrow a few.

Fred Richards 59:59
Now, let me tell you Maybe I should have said five and eight. I wanted

Anne Candido 1:00:02
those two. They’re both needed. So I’m sure they wouldn’t mind at all.

Fred Richards 1:00:06
Navigating the why stage right now? That’s for sure.

April Martini 1:00:10
Yeah, that’s what I’ll choose. All right. And the last one is definition of a perfect day.

Fred Richards 1:00:15
I will go a bit further. I’ll say perfect week. Okay. They’re

April Martini 1:00:18
breaking the rules. But that’s fine. Yeah, I

Fred Richards 1:00:21
have a bit of a routine. The vodka goes in the fridge and the freezer on Friday morning. The cigar is selected for the end of the day. And it’s that moment where you know, you can enjoy a cigar and a martini while the family is talking about their week in their day, because you’ve accomplished something. What box did you take that week? How did you make somebody’s life easier or better? Because of what you did that week. And I think that that’s one of the things that designers very rarely lose sight of is it’s a people business, yes. Because we are in the service industry of people. And people are each other in the industry that we service, our clients, and ultimately the consumer. And I think that we lose sight of that a lot. So sometimes just sitting there reflecting on the week, enjoying that cigar Martini of what I did, and that sounds a bit religious. I don’t mean it to be by any stretch of the imagination. But there’s a really good feelgood factor in that. That’s a perfect,

April Martini 1:01:19
I love that. All right, well, before we wrap up, tell people where to find you plug anything you want, this is your chance to

Fred Richards 1:01:29
share it or share it all. Be a hypocrite if I were to do the plugs. So it’s just as simple as is where you can start a conversation where I might be able to point you in the right direction, even if it’s not the hive. That’s the big lever and, and then when the Chicago Brand Museum is open, that URL will be going up very, very soon, and location is set. And then the other one will be the Speaker Series we are hosting in September for three days. That’d be pretty exciting to be more powerful than that. But all of that information is on my LinkedIn page. If you want to see what we just did for the previous versions. I will leave it there. All right.

April Martini 1:02:05
Well, thank you, Fred. This has been awesome. Perfect once and with for this.

Fred Richards 1:02:09
Thank you. Thank you, thanks for the opportunity. I really, really appreciate it. And thanks for the podcast because I’ve really enjoyed all of them. And hopefully, you’ll be able to see that I did do my homework and I was listening. Who you were talking to? Then we’ll be called out.

April Martini 1:02:26
This has been an exceptionally insightful conversation. And we want to thank Fred for being one of our experts in this Marketing Smarts Creative Series: the issues facing creative agencies today and how they need to evolve to stay relevant. We hope that coming out of this conversation all of you listeners take action on the insights we’ve discussed today to make your agency client partnerships stronger and more meaningful, as well as be honest with yourselves and clean up work cleanup as needed. We can all change the industry for the better this way. Be on the lookout or listen for other episodes in this series. And if you have particular thoughts or feedback, we’d love to hear from you as always. And with that, we will say go and exercise your marketing smarts. Still need help in growing your Marketing Smarts? Contact us through our website: We can help you become a savvier marketer through coaching or training you and your team or doing the work on your behalf. Please also help us grow the podcast by rating and reviewing on your player of choice and sharing with at least one person. Now, go show off your Marketing Smarts!