Anticreds volume 1: Nothing ever goes wrong at agencies


17th September, 2018

We’ve just repositioned Finn as an Integrated Agency powered by PR thinking. Irrespective of what any agency offers, one thing they all have in common is a shiny deck of creds full of case studies bursting with glowing results. Great, that’s a given – but does it reflect the real agency?

We all know that the agencies can be stressful, time-constrained, sometimes disorganised places. Relationships can be far from perfect, things go wrong, people don’t gel, pitches are lost and it’s in these situations where we learn the most.

At Finn we believe in the power of human connections: real, normal, everyday, genuine, honest, down-to-earth, personal relationships. We’re also really into learning from failure so after every major activity (a pitch, a project, a launch or whatever) we conduct an after-action review following a simple agenda: HIGH FIVE, WATCH-OUT, HOW ABOUT.

Today we’re launching a new deck of Anti-Creds, to share our failures, what they’ve taught us and how failure is the key to unlocking future success.

There’s something weirdly un-nerving about an agency that never fails. Don’t you think?

Rule 1: Don’t Assume, it makes an Ass out of U and Me


An existing client is launching a new product. We’ve been with them for years. They’re our best friends. It’s a major global deal so they’re going to have a look at some other perspectives so it’s going to pitch.

“We love you”, says our day to day contact, “it’s my boss wanting to have a look around.” We assume “It’s a slam dunk guys, I’ve got your back” Here’s the notes from the after-action review. After we lost the pitch. We lost it because it was our own stupid fault. We didn’t follow our process properly and we didn’t meet the senior client. Billy basics but when you’ve been friends for a long time, sometimes standards slip.

High Five

  • Turned around a full pitch in five days, including animated content
  • Asked to work-up an element of the response so that they could keep working with us in a slightly different capacity


  • Don’t assume a prescriptive brief is what is needed
  • Telephone tissue sessions don’t do it – face to face is critical
  • Don’t sweat the set-up – keep it simple and focussed
  • Don’t lose sight of our beliefs – Courageous Creativity is really important – stick to our principles

How About

  • Treat every pitch as a new new opportunity, regardless of the length of the relationship
  • Take all assumptions and previous experience off the table
  • Have a different team look at it
  • Be clear on the pitch deliverables
  • Build senior relationships and understand the wider internal context

Most importantly – don’t assume that because your client loves you and she knows exactly what she WANTS…that that’s what her business NEEDS. We bungled and really we let her down.

We’re not perfect but you can see that we take it on the chin (one of our values) and we’re happy to share it with the world. Not many agencies would do that we like to think.

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