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Creatives in freedom: Breaking the Ad agency burnout

Burnout in Advertising Agencies.
Mad Men opening 2007

An agency hosts a competition for students: 24 hours of non-stop work on a client brief, competing for an internship. They present it as a "simulation of agency life" and broadcast it as a reality show on YouTube. Upon seeing the exhausted, disoriented, and uninspired participants, a discussion arises among industry professionals in Latin America.

Ad agency burnout isn't just a consequence of ineffective management; it’s also a consequence of their business model.

In our pursuit of a new advertising agency model that allows sustainable working practices, we have identified the following issues in the traditional model:

How they profit: Traditional agencies make money by charging for the hours you work. They buy your time and then sell it for more money. The more hours you work, the more they charge.

Client acquisition: Traditional agencies invest significant time and money in pitching, essentially providing free campaigns to potential clients. This often involves the same teams that are already swamped from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and beyond)

Brand building: They ask their teams to develop "proactive" ideas to win awards. But when do we find the time? "After 5 pm, once we finish the work we have to do for clients." Or even dedicating billable client time for projects that are made with the only purpose of winning awards for the agency.

Organizational structure: Traditional agencies have hierarchical structures, with more directors overseeing creative work as the agency grows. More internal reviews mean more points of view, but not always better work.

So, how does a new advertising agency model work?

Innovative advertising agency models operate on a node-based structure, fostering cooperation and work distribution among independent creatives or small specialized agencies, regardless of location.

This model is founded on network structures, moving away from hierarchical pyramids.

Here, another creative professional with different expertise becomes a collaborator rather than a competitor.

These teams work from their home offices, beachside spots, parks, or patios, connecting talents and resources.

El Puerto Agency, isn't alone in adopting this approach. There are thousands of creatives like us, all seeking work freedom.

Each member of the agency manages their schedule, takes breaks for dog walks, finds moments of inspiration, and determines their project hours.

We bill based on deliverables, not hours spent in front of a computer.

Lastly, flexibility goes hand in hand with responsibility; planning properly to meet deadlines is crucial to us. Maintaining responsive communication with our remote teammates is equally vital.

Putting an end to Ad agency burnout also depends on exploring alternative paths to the traditional agency model.

Thanks to the digital revolution, every creative individual can become their own business, connect with collaborative work networks, serve clients worldwide, monetize their content, or find a full-time job where they feel free to develop their full potential.

If you want to join our crew of creatives in freedom, don’t hesitate to reach out with your portfolio at


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I'm Federico Giraldo, Creative Director for Latino brands in the US.

I am the Creative Director and a partner at El Puerto Agency, a Miami-based branding and content creation agency. We aim to connect Latino brands with multicultural US audiences by overcoming language and cultural barriers.


I have prior experience working at agencies in Colombia, Argentina, and the United States, and I have been honored with awards at The New York Festivals, Clio, Effie, and more.


I am also a teacher at Miami Ad School, where I share my expertise with younger generations worldwide.


I invite you to explore the possibilities of collaborating with El Puerto Agency. Please visit our website and see if we would be a good match to help you succeed in the competitive US market.

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