Nobody at Redscout is “too cool for school,” according to Jonah Disend, who founded the shop in 2000 and sold it to MDC nine years ago. In fact, he said the culture of the agency is “super geeky” in the best way possible. “It’s a place where people wear their geekiness on their sleeve and they’re very proud of it and they’re never ashamed of being too enthusiastic about anything,” he added.
Staffers, who work on brands such as Google, A&E Networks and PepsiCo, are encouraged to “scout things out” and fuel their curiosity with adventures to help drive new ideas and ways of thinking, said Mr. Disend. For example, as part of Redscout’s “Ministry of Culture,” or MOC, employees can attend activities or events that are interesting to consumers or big in pop culture, such as the Daybreakers morning rave parties. The experiences—aside from being fun—help the agency learn and keep up with trends.
Redscout also promotes the importance of trying new things outside the office with its $500 annual professional development stipend. The fund has been used by staffers on things like a six-week ceramics intensive, scuba certification, perfume making and salsa dancing. “I believe the biggest reason people stay at a job is because they’re growing and learning, and we’re focused on challenging people,” said Mr. Disend. The agency lets junior team members present to CEOs and travel to escape their comfort zone.
One way Mr. Disend, who has a background in theater, gets his staffers to think outside the box about pitches is by having them do an acting class of sorts. He pairs people up, helps direct them, then has every duo read the same scene in front of the office to show how each one is radically different from the next. “We get so hung up on the presentation, but you can make it come to life in so many different ways,” he said. “I’m trying to have them think of every presentation as a performance.”
Mr. Disend said he really believes in retention, which is why Redscout celebrates tenure and reevaluates salaries to match market value so people don’t feel they need to go somewhere else to make more money. The agency also has anniversary awards, such as a $2,500 bonus at two years, five extra paid-time-off days at five years, one month paid sabbatical at seven years and a 10-year anniversary party. Some other fun perks include being able to work from anywhere on Fridays and earning days off in return for working on weekends or holidays. And to keep promoting stress relief past the summer, Redscout has winter Fridays with hot chocolate bars, grilled cheese-and-tomato soup days and early office closings.
Next year, Redscout will look to ramp up its West Coast offering by adding more staffers in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The New York office will have a new home in the city come spring, and Mr. Disend is welcoming layout ideas and thematic concepts for the space from the team.