Anyone who has been to an ad agency, or one of the other disciplines that we insist on splitting ourselves down into, will have noticed the conspicuous consumption that goes on in the interior decor department. In fact you would imagine that this is counterproductive as presumably clients walk in and think to themselves wow - these guys must be charging me too much look at all this spare money they have. It must be time to renegotiate the contract...
How could it be that this state of affairs has come about. The short answer I suppose is that everyone else is doing it, so our preening egos don't want to the chumps with a formica table and a dodgy pot plant on reception. I have a theory about the long answer; in that why is everybody else doing it?
Consider you are considering starting an ad agency. It has got to be one of the most capital unintensive industries that there is. What do you actually need? Two, maybe three people, a couple of phones and (nowadays) an internet connection. Assuming you don't pay yourselves a salary to begin with, you are talking about an investment of around £5000 each.
This is in part responsible for the terrible over-supply of ad agencies in the marketplace. In such an environment start ups sparkle brightly and then die out on an alarmingly regular basis.
As a purchaser of advertising services, you want to be sure that your people are going to be around for a significant amount of time. They are handling several millions of pounds of your money and you want to be sure you have not hired a group of travelling hobos or other shiftless bums to your FCOJ account.
So therefore, like banks, who handle large amounts of money for their clients on trust, agencies need to give across the impression of stability, permanence and the appearance of great wealth. So we decorate our offices with marble, brushed steel and exotic woods so people don't think we're fly by night chancers.