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Embracing Change: Exploring Innovative Ad Agency Models

Updated: Mar 27

If we look at the field of action for creatives a couple of decades ago, our natural habitat was in agencies. Thanks to technology, the business has transformed and evolved towards new models.

Let's look at the pros and cons of some of them so that when choosing an agency as a brand or applying as a creative, you can consider other avenues different than the traditional model.

Traditional Models:

1. The “Mad Men” traditional advertising agency

Pros: The full-service model allows clients to have an integrated response to their communication problems. It's an opportunity for creatives to work with recognized brands in a work environment filled with talented people.

Cons: Its organizational structure is hierarchical, and the work goes through many filters before reaching the client. This makes it slow and limits its real-time responsiveness.

2. Indie agencies

Pros: In recent years, small agencies have contributed great ideas to advertising. Agencies like David, Gut, We Believers, Droga 5, and Santo, among others, have delighted us with fresh ideas that set trends in the industry.

"Pass The Heinz" by SCDP brought to life by David Miami

Innovative agency model

Cons: Just like agency networks with big names, indie agencies have gradually been acquired by large multinational corporations, which is a great business for their owners but puts creatives back in the uncertainty of "who's in charge here." Like in large agencies, it's difficult for the talent to balance work and personal life.

3. In-house agencies

Pros: It allows brands to have total control to produce quickly, in large volumes, and in full control of the talent working for them.

For example, Unilever has a digital arm called U-Studio, founded in 2016 and operating in 16 countries today. They work with a consulting company named Oliver, which specializes in creating in-house agencies for their clients. For talent, this agency model offers a great opportunity to earn better salaries and have a life after 6 p.m.

Cons: There are few examples of in-house agencies with work that revolutionizes the brand; it takes a lot of work to break the mold from within. The result can be a somewhat comfortable and unchallenging daily routine for creatives.

However, there are exceptions, like the beautiful work of my friends Jeff Shermer x Jose Ramirez for Yellow Shoes, Disney's in-house agency:

Innovative agency models

1. Collaborative Nodal Agency

A nodal agency is a model based on a network of interconnected nodes or hubs. In this model, the agency is a central hub that coordinates and connects with various specialized nodes or teams, which can be located remotely or independently. Each node or team focuses on specific areas of expertise or services, and they collaborate with the central agency hub and other nodes to deliver comprehensive solutions to clients. The nodal agency model emphasizes flexibility, agility, and collaboration among distributed teams to meet client needs effectively.

These teams work from their home, beach, park, or patio offices, connecting talent and resources. With no hierarchies but with roles, this model has an agile and non-bureaucratic structure. El Puerto Agency is an example of this model that gives creatives the freedom to control their schedule and the places they work from.

Cons: This model requires clear leadership that unites the nodes of the network and a common idea that connects everyone with the desired outcome. Also, the agency must plan ahead to book the best talent for their projects.

Innovative agency model in Miami
El Puerto Agency model is nodal, connecting independent specialists according to the nature of each project.

2. The IT Guys

Innovative agency model

Pros: Technology companies are entering the business in full force. IBM has a digital agency called IBM iX, which

already has over 10,000 employees, 1,000 designers, and 25 offices. Today, it's the largest digital agency in the world. Their model leverages IBM's other divisions an

d products to offer creative marketing solutions to the brands they work with.

Cons: We still need to learn about the creative work of these types of companies. We know they are hiring the best talent from agencies and attracting clients through the IT door. The major drawback could be the need for more human empathy and emotions in campaigns where efficiency prevails, and data analysis has the final say.

3. Freelance Platforms

Pros: These platforms directly connect clients with creatives. As a creative, you can sign up by filling out a profile and uploading your portfolio. Through paid subscriptions, some platforms provide access to briefs and job offers.

Cons: Sometimes, we have to compete, and the client chooses the work that suits them best. I recommend integrating well into the platform's dynamics and frequently interacting to receive briefs more often.

Innovative agency model
Innovative agency model

Subscription Plans Pros: This model removes the headache of clients searching for freelancers. The client, who could be an agency, can skip piece rates and pays a monthly fee that sometimes includes unlimited designs.

Cons: We need to find out where or under what conditions their creatives work. As a client, you do not control who is doing your work.

Innovative agency model

4. Crowdsourcing Platforms

Pros: In this case, the platform has the clients and creatives compete to win a project with a prize pool. Even traditional agencies have entered this business; for example, Omnicom - the holding company for DDB, and BBDO, among others - owns Flare Studios. They occasionally post briefs from some of their agency's brands.

Cons: Opening a brief publicly can expose a client's competitive advantages to their competitors. On the other hand, hundreds of creatives give our best ideas at risk while they... well, take note.

Innovative agency model

As you can see, today you have more avenues to grow as a creative professional or to choose an agency for your brand. We are El Puerto Agency, an innovative nodal agency that revolutionizes the traditional model to enhance efficiency and deliver exceptional results.

Our agency model embraces the power of collaboration and connects you with the specialized group you need, cutting down the overhead associated with traditional agencies.

We are passionate about storytelling and shaping compelling brands. We believe that freedom propels creativity, and by providing our team with autonomy and flexibility, we ensure the generation of top-quality ideas.

Contact us today and set sail for success with El Puerto Agency.


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Copy of Federico_Giraldo_CreativeDirector_ElPuerto_agency.jpg


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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