Jimmy Smith runs an ad firm that functions nothing like an ad firm. Amusement Park Entertainment, which he founded after a celebrated tenure at TBWA\Chiat\Day--including creating Gatorade's 2009 "Replay" and Nike's 2003 "Battlegrounds" campaigns--is still in its infancy but already attracting clients such as Kraft and Nokia. Smith's approach is ambitious: to create branded content, from film to action figures, and co-own most of what his firm makes. To do that, he needed to build a collaborative, fast-moving team. So he made a bold statement.
FC: Your front door has a giant sign saying essentially, No Assholes Allowed. Why?
Smith: Some of the companies I was at, I had a hard enough time dealing with the client and the competition. Never did make sense to me spending time fighting among yourselves. At the end of the day, it's the ideas, the ideas, the ideas. I want every waking moment to be about keeping it fun, keeping it positive, so we can create something magical.
What's the key to finding nonassholes?
Once you make a statement like that, I can't tell you how many emails, phone calls, and packages I get in the mail. Everybody references that. People were like, "Yeah! No assholes! That's where I want to work!" The people that we hire, they police themselves and others. Wherever you've been working, word gets out if you are, well, not that cool.