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Why we should be turning to Gareth Southgate when building our creative agency

World Cup fever mounts as England play Croatia in the semi-final. Croatia will be hoping to reach the final for the first time and England will be hoping to end a 52-year wait. We look at how England Coach Gareth Southgate’s 3-5-2 formation is an inspiration for creative agencies.

If you are part of a brand, marketing or internal communications agency, here’s why it’s coming home, it’s coming home.

We’ll know in less than 12 hours, but in the meantime here’s why Sir Gareth (okay, I may be a bit soon on that one), should be an inspiration for any of us inside a creative agency.

Because Southgate’s 3-5-2 formation really says it all.

The 3 – the firm foundations – account managers who don’t just provide reliability but can see the killer ball that nobody else can see. They don’t just stop balls; they play out from the back. Comfortable in possession of any challenge and able to organise the resource they need seamlessly at the back.

The 5 – the creative engine room – planners, designers, filmmakers, storytellers, UX experts – the people that create so much of the entertainment for clients. They are happy to collect the ball and constantly make themselves available. Once in possession, they inspire clients with what is possible; nearly always they are creating the play that generates the goals. Get a great midfield in place, that controls the project and controls the pace, and you have the basis of an agency that clients yearn to work with.

The 2 – the star strikers that you deploy once in a while – the strategist; creative directors – the ones you like to field as your ‘gurus’ in certain subjects. They don’t run the project, but they are always on and are making themselves available at all times to receive the ball and put it away. They are also happy to make a nuisance of themselves to competitors by publishing thought pieces; speaking at events and networking away. They make a lot of noise even though they touch a ball with less frequency than their team mates during a project.

And let’s not forget the substitutes – the amazing freelance talent that an agency has to call upon. They are carefully selected; ready to go and warmed up for when required.

But, the full name for Southgate’s formation is 1-3-5-2.

And who is the 1? Well in my view, it’s the CEO. That’s where the buck can stop. Called upon once in a while, but for 99% of the game should really be encouraging the team; calling out the picture they can see from the back and putting the ball into play.

As agencies, we should all be a bit more Southgate.

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