New digital agency Reading Room: time to end the big agency bullshit

Reading Room McGinn Voirol RichardsonBritish digital agency Reading Room has re-opened a Sydney operation and immediately launched a broadside at rival agencies, accusing them of “big agency bullshit” and “padding the bill”.

Creative director Andrew Richardson, pictured right, said: “We believe the way many agencies operate is not in the interests of the client. 

“There are some great agencies who are doing good work, but others are going to find it harder to compete in a post-GFC climate. Budgets are tighter and clients are naturally looking for smart people who can deliver without the big agency bullshit.”

He claimed: “Reading Room keeps costs low by making clients’ needs central to the process, so there are no long delays, expensive revisions and excessive management hours padding the bill.”

Richardson – who was creative director at Amnesia –  left the agency in November to move to the UK. According to the Reading Room announcement he will initially be based there “to get fully acquainted with the processes and thinking that have made Reading Room a success”. Richardson is one of Australia’s most followed tweeters, with a Twitter following of 82,000.

Also on the team is fellow ex-Amnesia staffer Tom Voirol, who will be the agency’s Sydney director. The third member of the management team is Cathie McGinn, formerly of Photon company Geekdom and boutique search and social media agency LCB Media.

Voirol’s background is as a specialist in online user experience. He said: “Our process cuts out the sales people and account managers who can talk the talk but can’t walk the walk. All clients have direct contact with a dedicated team, not someone in the middle who has limited understanding of strategy, development or execution.”

He added: “What makes Reading Room unique is that clients only pay when the work is signed off by the client – so it’s in our interests to get it right.”

McGinn, a member of the Social Media Club Sydney organising committee who also blogs at The Year of the Cat,  said “There aren’t many agencies around that really understand how important it is to integrate user experience, design and technology with social media and search from the outset.”

Reading Room, based in Surry Hills, officially opened its doors on Monday.

The 13-year-old, independently owned UK company, already has a low key Canberra operation which is mainly focused on government business along with Sydney Harbour Trust and the Australian Museum.

Global CEO Margaret Manning said the decision to reopen in Sydney was based on Australia surviving the GFC better than any other developed nation. She said: “Australia has weathered the global financial crisis better than other countries, the country punches well above its weight on the global web stage and its huge talent base is immensely attractive.”

4.45pm Update: As the comment thread suggests, this is Reading Room’s second attempt to crack the Sydney market. The first effort began in 2001. It was led by James Canavan, who is now at Moon Communications, from 2003-2007 who said in his Linked In profile that there were around 20 staff.

In the comment thread, Voirol confirms: “Reading Room Australia closed its doors in Sydney in mid-2008. We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we could do things better and have learnt a lot in the meantime.”


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