Agency /Independent vs multinational network agencies – where should you go?

Independent vs multinational network agencies – where should you go?

Lots of talent we meet have specifically studied to work in the advertising or PR industry. Their main focus is studying, getting into the industry and finding a job and many don’t consider the type of agency they would like to work in – and whether they’re better suited to an independent or a multinational agency.

We recruit for agencies of all shapes and sizes and we’re constantly asked what type of agency is the best to work in. It’s like asking which is a better city to live in – Manchester Vs London or Sydney Vs Melbourne. It’s apples and oranges honestly. So if you’re just starting out or if you’re in the trenches of your current agency and want to know if the grass is greener in a different environment, keep reading!


Multinational network agencies

While both independent and multinational agencies have their perks and produce fun, amazing creative work, there are some things to consider.

Network agencies are great places to learn the art of advertising and PR and understand how a creative agency works. You’ll be surrounded by resources and have the financial backing of a big company. So if the following strikes a chord with you, then you’re probably better suited to a larger network agency:

  • These larger agencies are responsible for big, above the line campaigns that get seen on TV, on billboards and on the side of every bus/train/tram. So if you want to see your work everywhere you go – including the more unsuccessful campaigns – and show off a little to friends and family, then a larger agency is the place for you.
  • Is winning awards and helping to position Australia on the map as a leader in the creative industry important to you? Larger network agencies tend to have the resources needed to enter and win awards and while smaller agencies do win awards, there tends to be fewer accolades overall.
  • Does the thought of working in an agency in London or New York excite you? Global recruitment and HR teams want to retain their talent and can be pretty flexible, so wanting to live overseas for 2 years doesn’t necessarily spell the end of the relationship when you can easily transfer from office to office (think along the lines of how Emily made the move from Chicago to Paris in Emily in Paris).


However you do need to consider that you may be expected to work long hours, the scope of your role might be quite narrow and advancing in your career might take a bit longer – however if the benefits outweigh the positives for you, go for it!


Independent agencies

Independent agencies are a lot smaller, so there’s less people and less resources – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing (we’ll explain below)! If the following sounds appealing to you, independent agencies may be your thing:

  • Due to their small size, independent agencies tend to operate in a flatter structure – hierarchy and job titles are generally left at the door. While there still are reporting lines, they tend to have more of an “all in it together” mentality.
  • You’ll learn a lot from working alongside your colleagues. You’ll be working very closely with the Managing Director and other senior leaders and you’ll pick up so much from them – not just about PR or advertising (but that’s definitely a perk!), but invaluable information about how an agency and how a business works – incredibly important if you want to get to the leadership level one day.
  • Working with clients is a partnership. In multinational agencies, you’re constantly pitching for the next big piece of work, but at a smaller agency, you’ll work with clients on a long term basis. These clients may not be as well known, but you’ll build really strong relationships with these clients and eventually, you’ll be seen as an extension of their marketing team and a strategic partner.
  • Independent agencies are usually pretty small, so you’re going to know every one. You’re going to know all about their family and what they got up to on the weekend. If you prefer a bit of anonymity or to not know the inner-most details of your colleagues then maybe give smaller agencies a miss.
  • If variety is the spice of life for you, then independent agencies are the place to be. Each day won’t be like the previous day – you’ll wear multiple hats and you’ll be constantly doing all sorts of different things. While it sounds like a lot, it build resilience and you’ll learn a lot, helping your career progression.

This environment suits those who are willing to wear lots of different hats and accept the fact that doing less glamorous jobs is part of the fun. You can advance your career quickly in an independent agency, but be mindful that in a smaller environment everyone needs to pull their weight for it to work.


In the end, take this advice with a grain of salt – each agency has its own idiosyncrasies, so always do your research to figure out if an agency is right for you.


We also have relationships with a lot of agencies, so if there’s a particular one you have your eye on, get in touch! You never know, we could work with him and help you get your foot in the door. Shoot us an email at today.