VML

  www.vml.com
  www.vml.com

VML Reviews

Updated December 14, 2014
Updated December 14, 2014
91 Reviews
3.6
91 Reviews
Rating Trends

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VML CEO and President Jon Cook
Jon Cook
65 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Company cares about it's employees, great benefits package (in 9 reviews)

  • Oh and you can't forget the free beer on tap (in 5 reviews)


Cons
  • It is pro that VML is very busy but it can lead to a less than desirable work/life balance for some (in 10 reviews)

  • The development teams put in the long hours (in 12 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Great company to dive into digital.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Art Director in Kansas City, MO
    Former Employee - Senior Art Director in Kansas City, MO

    I worked at VML

    Pros

    Great culture, fun workplace and energy. Good healthcare benefits.

    Cons

    Work-life balance can be a slight challenge if you want to climb the ladder. New business is king, so if you are willing to work late you get rewarded the most.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Find ways to avoid burnout with your best employees.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Great place to learn, tough place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Creative in Kansas City, MO
    Former Employee - Creative in Kansas City, MO

    I worked at VML

    Pros

    Energized, vibrant atmosphere
    Exceptional talent pool of highly specialized digital expertise
    Big-name client roster
    Fun parties
    Benefits are second to none

    Cons

    50-hour work weeks are the minimum expectation. Burnout is high, especially with mid-level directors.

    Pay is not competitive. Raises are non-existent since 2008 (unless you are one of the select popular kids)
    This is a more recent problem for VML's leadership as owner WPP continues to put a stranglehold on the company to deliver profits. Year after year, VML's eager, young leadership projects unrealistic profit projections to please WPP's C-suite. As the year progresses and VML must reset lower projections (often two or three times), WPP punishes by withholding raises, bonuses and hiring requests. This has been a pattern for several years, hence the lack of raises and increasing demands on employees to work more and more hours.

    As VML transitioned to its current suite to top leaders, many of the people put in place were basketball-playing buds of the CEO. This has resulted in some ridiculous C-level titles that really have no meaning or purpose.

    VML hands are tied when it comes to really running the company. Profits demanded by WPP are #1.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep doing the best you can with the lack of power that you have.
    Take a look at the VML cultural bible that was put in place long ago by VML's founders.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    A lot of production, not that creative

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

    I worked at VML full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Benefits are amazing
    Genuinely nice people
    Good brands

    Cons

    ECD doesn't really know (or care to know) about his employees interests
    Art Directors are treated like production designers
    The integration with YR is not working
    Zero mentorship
    Zero trust

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get to know your employees better, learn about what they are interested in with their career rather than judging people right away. Trust people to do their jobs instead of micromanaging.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Approves of CEO
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  5.  

    Great company culture!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Kansas City, MO
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Kansas City, MO

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

    Pros

    -Office culture
    -Management team
    -Health/Other benefits
    -Client portfolio
    -Opportunities for involvement in new business

    Cons

    -Work-life balance at times
    -Review process

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6.  

    Excellent, Innovative Agency. They get it.

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

    I have been working at VML full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    This is a place that keeps you inspired. They truly care about each and every one of their employees. The president of the company is personable and approachable. He remembers the name of every single person that works there, and makes it a point to keep their interests in front of anything else.

    - Innovative
    - Successful... and continues to grow
    - Lots of career opportunity
    - Interested in the well-being of their employees
    - AMAZING benefits

    Cons

    The offices across the states and the globe could be more connected.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. 3 people found this helpful  

    Amazing Company, So-So Employer

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Account Management in Kansas City, MO
    Current Employee - Account Management in Kansas City, MO

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

    Pros

    Wonderful place. Hip, creative, forward thinking, embraces change, everything you'd want out of a digital agency. Benefits are great and the perks are everywhere. It's a truly neat and unique company to work for and the people (vast majority) are second to none when it comes to intelligence, creativity, drive, work ethic, and overall ability to work together in a team environment. Everyone is there to win and the enthusiasm, creativity and energy are infectious.

    Cons

    It's slowly become a corporate puppet of WPP. Sure, it was purchased in 2001, but it's been said that since the economic slump of 08 WPP decided to juice their profit center turnips such as VML while giving their large, slow, clueless traditional agencies on Mad Avenue a break considering who is growing and who is shrinking. Over time it seemed like the only focus ever was Cannes Lions and projections, which were often over-inflated by senior management before the fiscal year began, then blamed on the teams for not being met.

    Again, as a company it is an amazing place to work, but no cost of living raises......ever? I never received one in my entire time there. So unless you get promoted annually, you will make less money every year as your salary gets chewed on by inflation. Supposedly there were annual bonuses for all employees at end of year. Never did we receive - last was in 2007, I hear. Add that to relatively low salaries (compared to most other employers) and you quickly realize that you're not being paid with money, but free sodas, beer and foosball whenever you'd like. I'll take the money please.

    In terms of the WPP corporatization mentioned earlier, the senior management is all very established (as they should be, they earned it) and all in their 30's and 40's. This means there is virtually no room for advancement beyond middle management. Therefore, referencing back to the I-need-a-promotion-to-get-a-raise situation, you end up stuck in the middle. I'm also sure they have 26 "C_O's" - one for every letter in the alphabet. This further proves their need to make room so they don't lose talent.

    Biggest concern when I was there was watching the massive amounts of extremely talented, long-term VMLers leave. This was the true harbinger of where the company was going and helped me with my decision to move on.

    Finally, it seems like there are a lot of smoke and mirrors when it comes to how the company is really performing. You hear that no clients are meeting budget expectations, yet you're bringing on new clients left and right, often with the creative team blowing the budget to three times what was estimated. This means write off, after write off, after write off, to a point where you don't know if any client is actually making any money. It feels like there's a lot of book cooking going on and when you don't meet the unrealistic numbers set by senior management, guess where the fingers point?

    This seems like a long complaint list about VML but it really is a wonderful place to work and it makes sense why things are the way they are, given the circumstances. You just need to know what you're walking into and what to watch out for and you'll thrive there. It's the agency life I imageined and lived and wouldn't trade it for the world.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Give the Group Account Directors, Group Creative Directors, etc. their power back. It seems like they're now just glorified AM's and CD's compared to previously. Also, focus back on the client, not over-inflated projections and Cannes Lions that wind up killing the teams. Do the clients right and this will all come naturally.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    Learning a lot, but questioning if I'm happy here.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Interactive Web Developer in Kansas City, MO
    Current Employee - Interactive Web Developer in Kansas City, MO

    I have been working at VML full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    The culture is awesome, free food drinks and beer with plenty of events. VML also has resume building brands. This could be the perfect job for someone who wants to 100% commit to only his/her job and work an average of 50-60 hours a week (if you're a developer) but for someone with side-projects, entrepreneurial desires, or a family this can get taxing, especially with the average pay.

    Cons

    Poor work/life balance for development.
    Poor compensation.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Pay more for quality developers and stop creating such short deadlines, it's just not worth it.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9.  

    Great place to work, learn and grow your career whether you are just starting out or senior level.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Kansas City, MO
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Kansas City, MO

    I have been working at VML full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    VML is an aggressive competitor in the industry but does not have an aggressive atmosphere internally. VML has a collaborative leadership team with a good culture that cares about the people and the communities where each office is located. There is always a chance to learn something new and continue to grow in your career. VML also continues grow opportunities with great brands in and out of the US.

    Cons

    It is pro that VML is very busy but it can lead to a less than desirable work/life balance for some. This is usually not at the insistence of the company leadership but team collaboration, winning business and a growing company does mean more work.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10.  

    Great company to get experience with major brands

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

    I have been working at VML full-time

    Pros

    Great talent in pockets around the agency. Strong benefits. Resume building brands.

    Cons

    Pretty tight upper management that seems to be made up of friends of the CEO.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Focus more on achievement and ability to perform versus who is friends with who.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11.  

    High profile clients

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior User Experience Architect in Kansas City, MO
    Former Employee - Senior User Experience Architect in Kansas City, MO

    I worked at VML full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    The best reason to work here is for the exposure to clients like Dell, Microsoft, T-Mobile, and more. They have a relaxed dress code and fun parties. The atmosphere is young and vibrant.

    Cons

    There are many responsibilities that will go far beyond your designated skill set, and weeks that will melt together because you worked so hard.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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