Interview: Agency vs in-house with Sam Laurie

An interview with Sam Laurie, Founding Partner at One Menagerie, about working in agency vs in-house in the Creative industry.

In this ‘agency vs in-house’ interview series led by Salt’s Managing Consultant for Creative, Holley Potts, we speak to customers from all different sectors within the world of digital to answer the age-old question – agency or in-house? This series is designed to give you a snapshot of creative career journeys and insights into what is currently happening in their businesses. Over to Holley… 

Flipping over to agency side, I am speaking to the inspiring  Sam Laurie, Founding Partner at One Menagerie, who gives us a holistic insight to the way of working agency side and the inspiring trends that he sees coming up this year… 

Holley– Lovely to have you here Sam! So, seeing as you are on the agency path, I have noticed one question that comes up a lot is the variety of projects at agencies compared to that of in-house, what are your views on that?  

Sam – I think that from an internal point of view there is always going to be a certain amount of constraint by working in a specific sector or consistently on a particular type of project. Key benefits from working in an agency, although we refer to One Menagerie as a consultancy, is the diverse mix and enormous amount of energy and inspiration from working across different dynamics. I am a big advocate of multidisciplinary work, myself being a multi-disciplinary creative, and there is another art to selecting specialist individuals to bring ideas to life in an expert way. All the work we do balances creativity and commercial results and One Menagerie has a formula for successfully channelling that passion and managing expectations across a variety of projects. 

Holley– Multi-disciplinary ways of working like you said are very important, not only does it keeps things interesting and but also by up-skilling and becoming more diverse, not just in your production of work but also the surroundings that help you think for new concepts. Environment can play a big factor in terms of producing credible work and ideas, how have you guys adapted to maintain creativity?  

Sam – We work very close to Kew Gardens, so we have a lot of meetings there. The driver you have with any project, is an inspiring environment. What really makes a difference is ensuring that everybody is sparked and so that’s why meeting in Kew Gardens is great. I am a big outdoor enthusiast and I feel more ideas come out of being in the wild and connected to nature. 

I am a keen sailor and spent 6 years racing yachts around the world, so I am used to working in a confined space. But for most people that’s not the case and you have to realise people might be in a very different place mentally right now. I try to get to grips with how people like to work, their current headspace, and what interests them in all aspects of their life. We can then make sure there is an inspiring environment, whether it’s physical or non-physical.  

Holley– I think that is an important way of making sure your team are in a good place mentally, so it is great to hear you advocate nature to do so. Good surroundings + mental health = good work. Speaking of good work, what area are you focusing on at One Menagerie this year to focus on innovating?  

Sam – I am really proud of the work we are doing with content and it is a very exciting place at the moment. Digital is obviously critical from a behavioural science point of view and UX + UI shapes the customer experience. But the quality of content, especially where AI is concerned, is high on our agenda. Our best work lives in content. We work with challenger brands, business owners and entrepreneurs and have an acute understanding of brand strategy.  

There is a very crafted merge of brand strategy in our content work and this is most relevant when you look at the fundamental part AI has to play going forward. Content creation used to be a bloated commodity, it’s now fit and exciting. You really must think about what the brand’s objectives are and how it is being consumed. 30% of our work is strategy, 30% is content, 20% is digital and 20% is design. 

Most of our work is either by recommendation or we make contact with brands directly where we see scope for improvement. Occasionally when we pitch, we find that the biggest mistakes brands make is they go for agencies that offer design and content but seem to forget that it requires brand strategy and this portion of work will influence the result. 

Holley  – Agreed, since lockdown I think a lot of companies will be following suit like yourself and focusing on Brand Strategy and Content especially now that we are living in an even more digital world, and with the need to connect people more than ever this year, how do you see platforms creating more personable experiences?    

Sam– Conversely, I believe there will be an increase in new physical experiences, and I do think that is partly accelerated by what has happened this year. If you explore our innate behaviour, there will always be a requirement for multi-sensory application. I think that highly visceral experiences will be an inspiring frontier. There will be an increased blend and convergence of digital and physical, which is where I would like One Menagerie to live. 

Holley– Indeed, there is more thought towards being more personable, something that can easily get lost amongst digital and tech.  

So to wrap up, what great things can we expect to see from One Menagerie this year?  

Sam– Well, over the last 6-months, we have streamlined our business into 3 ‘super’ sectors in the high net worth and ultra-high net worth space: property, travel, and yachting. We like to stay niche and boutique

Despite the challenges, we have won four new clients in the last quarter and these works will be released soon, including a five-year brand strategy for a hotel group, global marketing and advertising campaigns in the residential and yachting sectors. Plus, we will be re-launching a film channel at the end of the year, which will be very exciting. I am a big fan of video content and have produced a few films now for various luxury brands. 

One of the biggest projects we are working on for next year, is a customer experience application for a billion-dollar yachting project. 

A brilliant overview from Sam, I particularly loved how going back to nature can help to unlock your creativity and enhance it even more. I also cannot wait to see the films coming out from One Menagerie at the end of this year!  

Stay tuned for more interviews, coming your way. If you would like to find out more about the series or find out how we can help you with your hiring, get in touch with Holley via hpotts@welovesalt.com

Read more of our agency vs in-house interviews here.

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