Critical Mass Reviews

Updated April 10, 2015
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  1. Good agency to work for.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Account Manager in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Account Manager in New York, NY

    I worked at Critical Mass

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Best culture of any agency I've been with. They do care to a certain degree about their employees welfare, certainly more than other agencies that consider their people as resources.

    Cons

    Some of the support and back office systems are pretty weak in comparison to other companies of the same size.
    HR and company orientation / onboarding for new hires could be improved.
    Consistency in delivery across the company varies by office and region.
    The company is still largely run out of Calgary, AB, not exactly the mecca for marketing professionals.
    Administration and processes sometimes get in the way of doing good work. Processes sometimes feel very inefficient.

    Advice to Management

    Put more focus on the larger markets in the US.

  2. Not a great place for working mothers/soon-to-be mothers

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - USIL in Chicago (Guatemala)
    Current Employee - USIL in Chicago (Guatemala)

    I have been working at Critical Mass full-time (more than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Despite the boring work there are some really talented and creative people.

    Cons

    Lack of creative work with a high turnover rate.

    Advice to Management

    It's a little hypocritical to start an initiative for women at CM while maintaining some pretty bad maternity leave policies that offers little to no support for professional growth.

  3. Helpful (1)

    Playtime

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Planner in Chicago (Guatemala)
    Former Employee - Planner in Chicago (Guatemala)

    I worked at Critical Mass full-time (more than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Good agency if you're a developer or a project manager. It's run by project managers, and the developers roll in around 10 and leave at 4:30.

    There's always lots of beer in the fridge.

    Cons

    The creative work simply isn't very good. The agency prioritizes timelines, "shipping", and keeping clients pacified over creative.

    There is no strategic thinking. The relationships that Critical Mass has with its clients are so far downstream from strategy that the briefs they get are of the "turn this campaign into an iPad app" variety. If you want to do strategy (not UX - which is all well and good, but UX and strategy are different things) then stay far, far away.

    Agency leadership is not strategic, either in the sense of "understanding how marketing and communications work", or in the sense of "having a plan and steering the agency in a clear direction."

    Advice to Management

    Beer fridges and townhalls are not the same thing as having a culture.

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  5. Work hard, play hard, learn lots.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Critical Mass

    Recommends
    Recommends

    Pros

    -Working with some very sharp, interesting, nice people
    -Learned lots
    -Misc. other perks: e.g. free breakfasts every Wednesday, lunch once a month, beer tap, etc.

    Cons

    -Work could be chaotic at times
    -Lack of formalized review process

  6. Foot in the Door

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Designer in Calgary, AB (Canada)
    Current Employee - Designer in Calgary, AB (Canada)

    I have been working at Critical Mass full-time (more than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Approves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    -High level accounts
    -Gain digital experience
    -Free Breakfasts, Beer O'clock, and events
    -Time-Off and benefits are great
    -Most people are great to work with
    -Open and modern office space make it easy to communicate with team

    Cons

    -Cliquey
    -Management gets all the good work while entry level designers and seniors get "dog work"
    -Work lots of overtime to get recognized
    -Sometimes spoken to in not the most respectful tone
    -Lots of pressure on projects
    -Lots of work that is "hush hush" and the same certain people being chosen for that work

    Advice to Management

    Take more initiative into getting to know your team and staff, and being genuinely interested in their work life. Making sure the staff is handling everything properly and if they are satisfied with the work they are given. Your team will stop being motivated if all they do is cut assets and do red-line documents

  7. Get the experience you need and move onto a better job

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Toronto, ON (Canada)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Toronto, ON (Canada)

    I have been working at Critical Mass full-time (more than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    - Get to work on some big global brands
    - Smart, nice people
    - Office space is pretty nice
    - Additional perks: free breakfast Wed, free lunch monthly, beer o'clock, occasional lunch & learns, good parties
    - Compensation is pretty good
    - Dog friendly office

    Cons

    Employees from all departments have been leaving in waves. It seems that the Toronto office cannot stop talent from leaving the company-- there has been at least a dozen people leave in the last couple of months. Related note.. the company does not seem to believe in sharing departure news within the company.

    - Lack of client variety. Working on the same type of work/client year after year kills creativity
    - If you are not in the "in-group", you pretty much are stuck with the most mundane pieces of work: no opportunities if you are not a "favorite"
    - Some new hires lately have been sub-par
    - Latest org. restructure of EAs under Creative Department is a questionable move

    Advice to Management

    Stop showing favoritism in such an obvious manner. We already know who you think are the "superstars" - they get to work on the most interesting pieces of work and can pretty much act like a diva. However, this really affects the morale for the rest of the team. Give other people some chance to shine - trust the people you hire. They may surprise you.. or else everyone just gets bored and/or frustrated and will start looking for new opportunities.

  8. Not the right place if you're looking to do great / award-winning creative work.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Designer in Toronto, ON (Canada)
    Former Employee - Senior Designer in Toronto, ON (Canada)

    I worked at Critical Mass full-time (more than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    People are nice, social committee does a great job of keeping morale up, parties and beer cart on fridays flexible hours, better than average benefits.

    Cons

    Cliques, cliques cliques. There is no chance to display your full potential if you're not in "the list". The Toronto Office haven't win a pitch in a long time and the good work always goes to either the Calgary or the Chicago office. There's not a lot of communication in between the offices.

    Advice to Management

    To Creative management - give more chances to everyone, not only the same old people.

  9. work you hard

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Critical Mass full-time (more than 5 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    work you hard, you will learn a ton but will likely be exhausted and burnt out most of the time. The best opportunities were had there for me...

    Cons

    do more with less, constant state of chaos with staffing, turn over, lose the great people and keep the mediocre ones. Salary review process non-existent...

    Advice to Management

    Do not just replace the leaders that have left with who was next mediocre person that was in line - recruit and hire stronger ones.

  10. Helpful (2)

    Fun place to work when your first starting out

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Developer in Calgary, AB (Canada)
    Current Employee - Developer in Calgary, AB (Canada)

    I have been working at Critical Mass full-time (more than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Critical Mass is a great place to work when your first starting out in your career. They do a number of things to make employee's very happy and they really do go out of their way to improve employee satisfaction. The have breakfasts every Wednesday, Beer o clock on Fridays, and a special Lunch every couple months. They have lot's of parties and they have lot's of fun team building events. The Calgary office is beautiful and is a open concept. They even have a beer tap! If you like to drink,...you will LOVE <3 CM

    Cons

    Due to the nature of it's foundations and its still current stakeholders, the company values Creative minds and skill sets more then the technical side of things. While this is not uncommon at Digital Marketing companies, the gap at CM is very clear and present. In the business of Web Design, before there were account managers, and project managers, and accountants, there were Web Designers. That fact seems to get lost at CM.

    Bottom line: Their Tech team in Calgary is dying. They have a very high turnover and the loss of many key employee's in Calgary has hurt them and will continue to hurt them. They do a number of fun things with employee's but at the end of the day, it comes down to money. They don't pay people what they can make at other companies in Calgary. It's very hard for them to retain top talent as it seem to be a place that grooms top talent until they move on for more money.

    They don't give raises, bonuses or promotions as much as they need to. People feel stuck, like they can't move forward in the company.

    They haven't been super successful profit wise in the last couple years and their unwillingness to recognize the importance of the tech team is major part of the problem. It will continue to be in the years ahead until they finally realize that the people who make the wheels turn are the same people they need to keep happy, and keep at the company. If that means paying more, and giving more bonuses, to keep the tech people happy, then they might just have to bite the bullet and do that.

    Hopefully one day, they finally grasp it,..but by then, it might be too late.

    Advice to Management

    You need to get serious with people's career paths. You have people called "Career Developers" and they don't really do anything. You need to be serious about helping people achieve what they really want to achieve. You have to give them every opportunity to expand and improve their skill set or they will go somewhere else. Raises need to happen more often. The cost of living and inflation goes up . If food and housing costs more then two years ago,..you now make less. If you're not willing to give a employee a raise for cost of living increases and not make up some excuse about what that employee need to do to justify it, , you will be and are beat by other companies who are willing to do just that. At least in Calgary, people can choose to work at other companies, and quite frequently do. If you can't play ball in Calgary, then you'll continue to hire younger, less experienced kids who will use you until their done, and then move on. You lose some much knowledge and experience every year it should be considered a epidemic. You need to start giving people more raises, and promotions, and awards or recognition. Even small and simple pats on the back can go such a long way!

  11. Smart people working in a fun environment, beset by some organizational problems

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Toronto, ON (Canada)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Toronto, ON (Canada)

    I have been working at Critical Mass full-time (more than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    The people you work with are smart, interesting, fun, and self-motivated.
    You'll get your hands on some very big brands and accounts.
    If you get the green light, you'll have the opportunity to really own some big pieces of work.
    If you can break into favor with the right people, you will for sure be given great opportunities.

    Cons

    Breaking into that "inner circle" is tricky and, at times, childish.
    The pay is simply not that great.
    Advancing in the company is not as frequent as it's made to seem. Open spots are frequently hired from outside the company.
    Corporate direction is confusing and contradictory at times.

    Advice to Management

    Invest more in your people. Consider them your best asset and treat them as such. You have amazing people working for you in every discipline. If you go the extra mile for them, they'll triple that back for you.

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