The Advertising Shop

So I have three friends in total.

Two of them know what they’re doing with their life, and the other one has no idea.

I find him to be the most interesting.

Over the past 5-7 years, he’s worked on and off as a chef in a string of reputable restaurants and is actually surprisingly successful for someone who (a) claims to not enjoying being in the kitchen, and (b) would want to be one of my (three) friends.

In what I assume to be a state of panic, he asked me what an advertising agency is like because working in one is possibly something that interests him.

What I found interesting about his line of question was that he kept telling me he had no idea how an agency operated, and whether that would be a problem.

Playing to my strengths of not speaking, it hit me that he probably knew more than I did about the subject so he should actually tell me about it.


The more I thought about it, an advertising agency runs the exact same as a restaurant.

So instead of telling him anything about an agency, I just got him to tell me about a restaurant (I was quite hungover at the time and didn’t feel like talking so this was easier anyway), and how he understood them to work.

Here’s what he taught me.

People choose their favourite restaurants for two primary reasons:

  1. They like the food.
  2. They like the atmosphere.

OK, so that’s why clients choose the agencies they want to work with so we were off to a good start:

  1. They like their ideas.
  2. They like working with those people.

I got him to take me on the ideal experience for any customer from start to finish, and I just woke up at key moments and added some advertising buzzwords into the mix.

It would start with a customer walking into the restaurant.

*That’s a client*

They’d come into the restaurant and be greeted by their waiter, who is ideally is a friendly person who can cater to their specific needs, give them the information they need to get exactly what they want and build a good rapport with them to ensure they’re happy and will continue to come back to that restaurant.

*That’s account service*

Once seated, the customer is given the chance to choose what they want to best suit their needs based on the time of day, style of food they feel like, and any other considerations that may impact their decision. They then call their waiter to place their order.

*That’s a brief*

The customer is then assured that their requests are well understood, and the waiter disappears back to the kitchen to relay the order.

*That’s briefing the agency*

In an ideal world, the exact order comes out swiftly to the customers request. However, if there is something wrong with the request that the chef needs to tell the waiter to tell the customer, the waiter will have to return to the customer with bad news.

*That’s a crap situation. aka a daily occurrence.*

But if the rapport between waiter and customer is good enough, it will be understood and forgiven. If the rapport is bad or the customer is just a jerk, it’s not going to go down well. Adversely, this situation could have been avoided if that waiter and chef were working closer together so that the information was provided previously.

*That’s good working relationships, regardless of industry.*

Anyway, by now the order is clarified and food being created. 

*Idea generation*

But the customer is left waiting. Always waiting 10-30% longer than they’d hoped to wait.

*Production time. Or as I call it - reality.*

Once the meal arrives, it’s presented by the waiter. The waiter should have checked the order matches exactly what the customer asked for, and if for some reason it doesn’t they need to do a great job of selling in why they should be over-the-moon happy with whatever it is they’re receiving.

*That’s selling in creative*

The customer enjoys their meal, pays the agreed sum of money and leaves. 

*Closing a job*

If they were happy, they’ll be back the next night, if not they’ll look for an excuse to find a new restaurant. And every customer is different, so you need to figure out what’s most important to them, what motivates them, and how you adjust your ways of operating to keep them coming back.

*That’s called why you should have them on retainer so they can’t leave you without a decent amount of effort*

So that’s the customer journey, but what my friend #3 asked was what it’s like inside an agency.

I told him to list out what happened from his point of view as a chef to put that food on the plate. 

Here’s how that went.

Well, before I even take a job I need to decide what kind of restaurant I want to work in… big, small, Aussie food, ethnic cuisine, gourmet, cheap & nasty.

*Same goes for agencies. You can usually pick them by their client base of big clients vs small, corporate or not, do they make big TV ads or specialise in promotions, etc.*

Once I’m in with a restaurant I need to know not only what they want me to cook but how they want me to cook and what the plan is for the restaurant.

*Management decisions*

Before I can start a shift, everything needs to be working in the kitchen and we need to be staffed to cater for the night’s expected volume of customers.


I also need all the materials and ingredients on hand so there is nothing slowing me down once the craziness begins.


The menu needs to have been decided with a considered approach so that what I’m about to start cooking is actually what people want to receive.


Then once I get underway, it’s just about being left to do my thing without any distractions for the task at hand and not being interrupted constantly with customer questions via the waiters.

*The creative process*

One thing that pisses me off about the job of being a chef though, is that I’m essentially creating the same thing with slight variations over and over again and if I ever suggest how it could be improved if only we could make a slight difference, it gets shuts down because customers only ever want safe and simple dishes. Why can’t people just be braver and trust my killer creative skills?

*This is just how the bulk of humans operate and it’s not going to change if you switch careers*

I’ll admit it wasn’t the best banter I’ve ever had on a Sunday morning, but he ended up saying it was somewhat helpful and paid for breakfast so that’s a win in my book.