Elizabeth Valleau left ad agency R/GA and started gourmet food company Empire Mayonnaise.
Brandon Burns left BBDO China/Proximity China to start www.favorly.com, which helps people connect over projects.
David Carson left Ogilvy & Mather to launch music TV channel Fuse and heavy.com, an entertainment site.
These are just three of the many ad industry creatives to leave senior positions to launch their own start-ups. They’re part of a growing community supported by the Art Directors Club, an organization founded in 1920 to support the creative people working in the ad industry. Ninety years ago, the group’s mission was to investigate the idea that advertising could be judged by the same stringent standards as fine art. Today, the ADC is bridging the worlds of advertising and technology through its StartUp project, which kicked off recently with a big event in New York.
As ad agencies continue to morph and invest in digital talent, some senior creatives are leaving agency life to make it on their own. Several reasons are driving this, such as rapid technological innovation and the fact that creative processes at agencies do not always keep the pace, said ADC Creative Producer Zack Kinslow. Some people feel stuck. “People get so high up that they are just curating and managing work,” Zack said. “They leave for something more entrepreneurial so that they can get back to being hands on, back to doing the creative work.”
On the other hand, some ad agencies—especially Droga 5— are doing an excellent job of integrating an entrepreneurial spirit into their organizations, Zack said in this video:
Are you looking for inspiration to launch a start-up? Then check out the following videos featuring ad men and women who have made the leap. You can also seek advice by sending an email to: startup (at) adcglobal.org.
Sally O’Dowd is a VP and head of the social media team at DiGennaro Communications, a firm specializing in corporate communications for ad agencies, media-buying concerns and entertainment companies. @digennaro @sallyodowd.