Ad agency wants freelancers, not staff

An established PR and marketing entrepreneur has broken with tradition by launching an advertising agency that will operate without a direct or full-time workforce.

Mike Carey, founder of Manchester-based MediaCity Advertising, said the agency would lower overheads by not employing staff and by only using freelance workers.

Asked how they were selected, he said each freelancer had worked with him on advertising projects in the past, and had experience working on a freelance basis.

Some of them will be ex-employees of Charterhouse Advertising and Marketing, Carey's previous firm which he liquidated three months ago after 20 years at its helm.

Difficulties at Charterhouse reportedly began when a major client's new marketing team decided to centralise all its work with an advertising agency based in London.

Fearing the client could not be replaced, Carey was forced to close Charterhouse, though the laid off staff can now be put to work as freelancers for MediaCity.

Pointing to his freelance-only staffing model, the ad boss told FreelanceUK: " It provides the flexibility to assign the right people to a specific client or project.

"I use their individual talents, but only for the time taken to do the work. This benefits clients, keeps direct costs down and reduces general overheads."

The potential cost-saving of hiring freelancers instead of full-time employees has been noticed outside the advertising sector, and is not confined to smaller businesses.

This month, IBM distanced itself from comments by one of its consultants that the IT giant could axe 75 per cent of its direct workforce and then rehire them as freelancers.

Such a move, which could fit the timing of an HR revamp at IBM, was later explained by IBM as speculation on one of the many staffing options facing all employers.

But 'going freelance' to get the expertise they need for their creative projects may prove more than a consideration for new businesses hungry for a competitive edge.

"I think many ad agencies, at the moment, will be struggling to make a profit," said Carey. "Margins are tight and competition is fierce. I think others will follow my lead." 

 

28th May 2010

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