When it comes to jobs with the best perks, most people think that tech companies in Silicon Valley top the list. But the free food and gym memberships that tech companies tout are just the tip of the iceberg where ad agencies are concerned. For years, agencies have been creating perks for their employees that are as creative and large in scale as the campaigns they create for their clients.
From building theme bars in the office (like TBWA/Chiat/Day’s SurfBar) to hosting rock festivals to encouraging employees extreme hobbies, these agencies have done everything to make sure that their employee’s make their friends jealous when they talk about an average day at work.
In an environment where the staff is very young (at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners employees the average age of employees in any meeting is, allegedly, 27) perks like these tend to keep people happy and help them forget the number of all-nighters they’re asked to pull.
DDB Canada offers every employee $250 to buy something that fuels creativity. One employee, for example, bought the Go-Pro camera that took this picture. Other employees have spent the money on acting and art classes, books, music, and TED conferences. The fuel money can even be used for an iPad if that's what inspires you.
Most agencies seem to recognise that free food is important for keeping their employees happy. In many cases this goes above and beyond the popcorn in the kitchen or free tea and coffee. Here are some of the best food perks:
- 72andSunny - Every other Friday the CFO barbecues lunch for the entire agency.
- McGarryBowen - During the summer a Mister Softee ice cream truck comes up the car elevator to the 11th floor and serves free cones. They also have a snack wagon that circulates at night.
- Droga5 - Every night they cater dinner for their employees.
- DDB Canada - Every last Friday of the month is Hot Dog Day.
- Deutsch LA - Bagel Mondays and doughnut Fridays are an institution at this agency, enough so that they put it on t-shirts.
This isn't a nightclub, it's the bar at JWT's New York office. The huge venue features a 50-foot-long bar where employees a full selection of subsidized Diageo spirits (they're a client) and eat happy-hour foods, like wings, three nights a week.
JWT also hosts industry events in this space -- they are the advertising hub host for Social Media Week NY -- and play host to the occasional band, like Foreigner.
While the three martini lunch is no longer a common occurrence at today's ad agency, that doesn't mean alcohol has completely disappeared. A number of agencies have bars with subsidized drinks on-site, including TBWA/Chiat/Day's SurfBar and the legendary Central Filing bar at BBDO New York.
More often, agencies are providing beer free of charge. Mother, 72andSunny, HUGE, Wieden + Kennedy, and Big Spaceship all have either taps or beer fridges in their kitchens and Venables Bell & Partners brings in a keg every Friday. Because, as a HUGE employee said, 'Charging employees for beer? That's outrageous.'
If you see this old prison bus, called the Disruptive Thinker Tank, cruising the streets of Boulder its not full of convicts, its full of Crispin, Porter + Bogusky employees. The agency outfitted the old bus with comfy seats and Wi-Fi and it now serves as an employee shuttle throughout the city. For fun they repainted it to look like a prison bus, complete with fake bullet holes.
Bartle Bogle Hegarty was founded by John Bartle, Nigel Bogle & Sir John Hegarty in London in the early 1980s. And while the agency now has six locations worldwide, offices in the network still make sure to honour their British roots. In honour of the Royal Wedding last year, employees enjoyed an English breakfast - with bunting, English tea, bacon butties, and more. The agency also holds an annual trivia night.
Many agencies provide classes and lectures for their employees with ad industry heavy hitters and interesting entrepreneurs. Mother New York, however, provides something totally different. Their weekly in-house screen printing class allows all employees -- not just the art directors and copywriters -- a chance to flex their creative muscle.
While many agencies provide free food, Waffle Wednesday's in Mother New York's office just seem like a step above. Each Wednesday morning, employees make homemade waffles with all the fixings. On occasion, they may wait until lunch and serve it up with fried chicken.
In honour of their Australian founder, David Droga, Droga5 celebrates Australia Day every January 26th with Australia-themed food (e.g. meat pies), drinks (e.g. Foster's beer) and entertainment. One year, they filled part of the office with sand and threw a beach barbie.
Plan B in Chicago has half the agency working on a very special project. Every other week, the 20-person team meets to discuss the 1973 VW Fastback they're is entering in '24 Hours of LeMons,' a farcical car race.
When Grey moved into a new office in 2010, they gained an open floor plan and a gorgeous rooftop deck. The space is used for everything from meetings, to eating lunch, to sunbathing. They also host parties on the roof, which has a bar.
With the creative reviews, production meetings, and client presentations, agency life can be stressful. So CP+B has an ex-Buddhist monk on staff who conducts mindfulness sessions throughout the week.
It can also be hard to get to the gym. So AKQA, Grey, HUGE, and Wieden + Kennedy have in-house yoga classes.
72andSunny employs a life coach for its employees.
72andSunny brings performance artists into the agency. Last year, the shop hosted it's own performance of Point Break Live, a play based on the Patrick Swayze movie of the same name, that has an audience member play the Keanue Reeves role.
While having dogs at work would be a major perk for most of us, it is a fairly standard practice among ad agencies. There are a few possible reasons for this: dogs help make great ads; playing with a dog during work is a stress reliever; or agencies don't want their employees worrying about their starving pets while they are pulling an all-nighter before the big presentation.
Either way CP+B, HUGE, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, and Droga5 all allow employees to bring their furry friends to work. TBWA/Chiat/Day even has a dog run at the office.
Droga5 in New York sets aside the entire month of October to honour its employees. The month always kicks off with the management team cooking everyone breakfast, and every day of the month features something new and fun for the employees: a raffle, gifts, free massages, a sundae bar, free happy hour, personal finance consultations, and field trips to nearby museums.
The Hatch Project is a competition for Venables Bell & Partners employees to submit their best business idea. The winner received $10,000 dollars and the help of the agency to create the business.
After all of the year end and Super Bowl stresses, Mother New York and Big Spaceship in Brooklyn like to treat their employees to a nice relaxing ski trip. This year, Mother is taking all 130 people on a two-day, all-expenses-paid trip to Stratton, Vt.
When Pereira & O'Dell outgrew their original office in San Francisco, they decided that instead of selling or renting it they would find a way to use it. Three years later, The BarrelHouse is a space that is popular for charity events, agency events, movie screenings and performances. Musical artists Wyclef Jean, We Are Scientists and Sean Hayes have all performed free concerts there.
Each September for two years, TBWAChiatDay in Los Angeles has turned their parking lot into a music festival for their employees. The 5353 Festival celebrates the creative culture of the agency. Employees--who are also painters, photographers, fashion designers, poets, sculptors and musicians--can set up booths to share their talents. The agency also invites L.A.'s favourite food trucks and best local bands. Last year's line-up included Dustbowl Revival, He's My Brother, She's My Sister, WATERS, and DJ Soft Touch.
Tucked inside Los Angeles agency 72andSunny is its art gallery. To inspire the creative minds in the building, 'The Gallery @ 72andSunny' has hosted exhibits like The Vader Project, which asked L.A.'s hottest underground and pop surrealist artists to re-imagine Darth Vader's iconic helmet. This year, husband and wife muralists Hitotzuki flew from Japan to work on a signature wall piece that will stay permanently.
The space has previously been transformed by House of Blues artist Glenn Fox, whose black-light friendly designs were a perfect backdrop for the rave that 72andSunny hosted for their employees.
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