Why client-side is no longer French Rugby

Going client-side used to be like leaving National Rugby League, and signing a contract with French Rugby Union.

You’d choose the money over environment, and go somewhere where the pace is slower and the competition for a starting position a little less cutthroat.

In short, there was a stigma you’d chosen the soft option. And that you’d get handed the same brief over and over and over.

But those days are over (at least in our experience at Koala).

Creative quality

We’ve brought our creative team in-house and have the enviable task of writing our own ads… and approving them too.

Though Koala started with a single product (and now sell five, three years later), it’s possible to go crazy-deep on one product. You spend so long with the product (and its designers, and customer service) that you know it inside and out. Each selling point is the grounds for a new brief, multiplied by many different audiences we aim to sell to.

So the argument that there’s ‘no variety’ is plain wrong.

We’ve shot ads with surfers, a V8 racing team, a chef, real koalas, a Japanese mascot, models, influencers, footballers, octogenarians and babies. And while the product is the same, the audience rarely is.

Critically, our endorphins don’t come from trophies or awards. We get our buzz from seeing spikes in the website traffic graphs that are projected on the walls of our office. Everyday.

More on how our creative team operates at Koala.


The second advantage is the speed. Copywriters and Art Directors can get 3 years of work produced in 3 months.

The feedback loop our small creative team of four means you act fast, execute fast and, if it fails – which it has, countless times – forget fast.

The aim is to take small creative bets, instead of big campaign bets, where the long lead-time and high hopes can be paralysing.

Work environment

What about a fun working environment? Agencies are about as good as it gets when it comes to great staff, culture, and offices in cool locations.

Aussie startups like Canva, Campaign Monitor, Airtasker and Atlassian are fighting back with big pockets full of venture capital money and cultures built around technology and measurable work. Unlike the trend in adland, drinking and bonding is not banned, but encouraged.

Koala has just moved into a ridiculously fun office in Alexandria, complete with indoor swings and a VB fridge (our thirsts are hard earned).

Work-life balance

Agency life is deeply unpredictable, because your worth is tied to head-hours and retainers.
Your time is sold for money, and juicy retainers usually start with late-night pitches.

You simply can’t control your social life at an agency. You don’t know when you’ll be home, or whether you could keep plans for the evening. For me, that was a very familiar feeling.

Non-service business models are generally be more predictable. For me, that’s a perk.