Swift Agency Reviews | Glassdoor

Swift Agency Reviews

Updated April 17, 2018
29 reviews

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Swift Agency CEO Liz Valentine
Liz Valentine
23 Ratings

29 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (2)

    "Senior Producer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Producer in Portland, OR
    Former Employee - Senior Producer in Portland, OR
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Swift Agency full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    1.) Amazing culture led by an executive team that stays rooted in the agencies core values.
    2.) Great opportunity to grow, given you have the drive to want more and work for it.
    3.) Strong Female leadership that walks the talk when it comes to important issues like maternity leave and the struggles of the modern working woman.
    4.) Consistent communication on all fronts. From leadership on changes happening within the company, transparency on ebbs and flows of the business and constant gathering of feedback. Each employee is also given a semi and annual review with goal driving to track success and growth.
    5.) Great roster of brands that are diverse and interesting with a great base of smart and savvy clients.
    6.) Majority of players from top to bottom are egoless, which is a huge rarity in this business.
    7.) Benefits! Great vacation time and producers work to ensure that all team members take the time they have. PLUS free Friday lunches, Monday breakfast and plenty of learning events to empower the working/creative person.
    8.) Overall, it's just fun. Lots of good laughs and good people. Very rarely did I drive into work dreading the day or someone I had to work with.

    Cons

    1.) Resourcing is a job on it's own. It's something they are working tirelessly on, but I often felt the frustration of not having the right talent or availability needed to get the best work done.
    2.) Studio is also undergoing a lot of change. Having editors/animators in house is a necessity, especially in the tight turnarounds we have to work with in this industry. (I believe a few were hired after I left , so this may have been addressed!)
    3.) Need to build up the technical department (creative expertise, technical leadership and production) this is a growing demand and they aren't getting enough of this piece of the pie.
    4.) The Agency is growing very fast with a lot of changes happening rather quickly.

    Advice to Management

    Keep being amazing humans :) and work to expand the business not just in clients but with the work we are producing.


  2. Helpful (6)

    "Let's set the record straight: Swift is a great place to work."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Swift Agency full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    If you’re on Glassdoor looking at Swift, it either means you’re looking for a job or you’re a current employee reading the latest scathing review drama (hey guys!). Take everything with a grain of salt – Glassdoor can be helpful but it’s the Yelp of agencies, meaning most people don’t actually take the time to write good reviews. No place will ever get 5 stars because no agency is perfect, and everyone is looking for different things in a workplace. Overall, I would truthfully rate Swift 4 stars, but I had to give it the full 5 to up the average, since a lot of the reviews on here are straight up slanderous from former employees with bad blood.

    I worked at Swift for almost 6 years (and I'm a person of color, if that matters to you). Sure, it’s not super diverse. But neither is Portland. It definitely sucks that that’s the reality, and I want it to change. But at least Swift does its best to hire people from as many different perspectives and backgrounds as possible, and there’s an even ratio of male to female, even in the creative teams.

    Like any place, it had its ups and downs, and change is always tough. But I personally think that as a whole, people in this industry can be a bit entitled. At the end of the day, each agency is a business, and you're here to work - not for the free lunches or the beer or the parties. Sometimes we need to take a step back and remember we're lucky to work in these environments, and Swift created a pretty good one.

    Pros:
    - This is a given, but the people at Swift are the best part of working there. It is a very team-driven environment, so you become very close with your coworkers to the point where I call my old coworkers my closest friends.
    - Strategy and creative work well together. The strategists who work at Swift are very intelligent people who know their stuff. They work with creative throughout the entire process so the work always feels very buttoned up and smart.
    - No one has a big ego. Except those damn dogs… Bunch of attention whores. (Just kidding, I love the dogs).
    - Swift does their best to care about you as a person, not just an employee. Recently, Swift started “personal days” which is the ability to use 40 hours throughout the year however you want it (like mental health days).
    - If you're lucky enough to have a great manager (99.9% of them are great), there is always someone that you can talk to about things that make you unhappy at work.
    - Starting at an entry level position ~6 years ago, I was able to grow professionally and was promoted in reasonable timelines
    - They give you tools to further your career – presentation workshops, ability to go to conferences/art shows, improv classes, etc.
    - Amazing CEO / CMO. Liz Valentine and Alicia McVey are some badass female business women/mentors and overall outstanding human beings.

    Cons

    - Can feel like a production house at times. Lots of projects with very fast turnarounds. Depending on the client, it can feel like you are just churning out content like a machine to fill a designated number of assets, with little creativity involved.
    - Once you pass a senior level, there isn’t a clear path for growth or next step in your career. They did this to avoid being “too top heavy”, but as a result, for someone like me I was unsure of my professional path at Swift.
    - Very process oriented. Management, briefings, creative presentations… There is a process for EVERYTHING. I am very Type A, so this benefited my working style, but after leaving Swift and starting at a new company, I saw that sometimes processes that are too strict can devalue the creative work. Every day at Swift is very predictable – for better or for worse – and each person has a designated job (i.e. if you are a writer, you write the words. If you are an art director, you add the images). As a result, sometimes it’s easy to fall into mundanity because you know exactly who is responsible for what, exactly what the clients will buy, and no one wants to disrupt the well-oiled machine.

    Advice to Management

    The intentions are good, but sometimes harping so much on culture makes it feel disingenuous and forced. While having a clear mission statement is important, focus more on hiring great people and the culture will create itself. Be a bit more flexible with the processes and wary of falling into the zone of resourcing people as man hours. I realize it’s a business and there’s projects to finish, but it has a tendency to cause burnout when people feel too overstretched, creating an environment of stress and negativity. Be present in the office, it makes a big difference when employees see upper management working alongside them. Keep valuing all of your employees – that is what sets Swift apart.

  3. Helpful (2)

    "Great place to gain experience; not so great for the long-term"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Swift Agency full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Swift is a great place to gain experience in digital marketing and I've learned what to tolerate and what to avoid. I saw a lot of people come and go that eventually moved onto better things. Despite the many qualms I have, it's a good opportunity to gain some experience in the industry, just don't expect to be here long-term as it can be very frustrating.

    FTE provides you with some solid benefits including health coverage and 401K matching.

    Work/life balance is okay for the most part, though you can expect to take your work home with you on a regular basis.

    Some pretty cool people work there. Despite the issues I have, almost everyone here is great on a personal level.

    If you're a dog person, you're in luck because there's usually at least a few on a daily basis.

    Cons

    Quite a few people I've worked with here (former and current) have stated that Swift has evolved into a much more corporate environment and that senior management is disconnected from the rest of the staff. I'd have to say that I agree with them, although that may or may not be a bad thing depending on what type of job environment you prefer.

    Having to please everyone: your manager, your manager's manager, the account person, producer, planner... I strongly believe in working as a team, but after so many deck revisions, it seems like people are suggesting edits to justify their jobs.

    Speaking of justifying your jobs, it can be difficult completing a project when people on your "team" want to be the point of contact for information that they don't need to do their job but you need for yours. All this does is create unnecessary steps, wastes time, and makes work flow overly complicated - all because they want to appear valuable.

    Swift can be a bit inauthentic at times and have questionable practices to drive new potential talent and clients. For example, looking at some of these reviews, it's pretty obvious that one or two were written by HR and/or the brand team (or the unlikely possibility that someone legitimately drank too much of the kool-aid).

    Reviews occur every 6 months (yearly and mid-year). My direct manager would tell me that if I could make a couple improvements that they'd like to promote me next review period. For the next 6 months, I'd work hard to make these improvements. I'd even check in with my manager every so often and ask how I was doing - they'd tell me I'm doing great! However, during the next review period, I get the same response I received last review. This happened not once, not twice, but THREE times. I get it, they raise the bar of what the requirements and expectations are for the role. BUT it shouldn't be surprising that this type of behavior would discourage anyone and negatively affect their productivity over time. Occupational burnout is very much a real thing.

    Advice to Management

    My direct managers were great and I truly learned a lot about the field. Although don't even hint at the possibility of a promotion or raise. Also, when asked for feedback on performance, BE REAL. It's not a good feeling when I receive positive feedback during weekly check-ins and then surprised that there were a couple issues during reviews. If I suck, just let me know then and there so I can work on improvements. Professional development doesn't magically occur every 6 months, it's an ongoing process.

    My manager's manager: Don't be so vague and long-winded. Also, when I say I don't have what I need to finish something or that a campaign is still running, don't be surprised that a deck isn't 100% completed. Spend less time listening to yourself talk and spend more time listening to subordinates.


  4. Helpful (8)

    "No, let’s set the record straight - Swift is NOT a great place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Portland, OR
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Portland, OR
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Swift Agency full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    I could mention the new office YET AGAIN but now that the whole studio is gone, what do we even need it for? (Architectural awards, what every agency prides itself on, obviously?)

    Cons

    I promised myself I’d never write a review. But the thought of leadership sitting around patting themselves on the back reading that last 5-star steaming garbage pile of lies while dismissing every piece of negative feedback as the product of the disgruntled “Yelp for professionals” was enough to make me sick.

    Swift is a place of ego, intimidation, empty promises, and is at its heart, a popularity contest. The winners are the sheep who do not question leadership but rather do exactly what they want, they way they want it, when they want it, sacrificing individuality, personal contribution and pride. If you’re happy to bow, kiss the ring (and other body parts) and not speak up, you will excel at Swift - but the moment you have an idea, you will be gone.

    Swift leadership says they started Swift to be the agency they always wanted as clients- but they don’t care a lick about clients. They will sacrifice their biggest, longest-standing clients to focus on the remnant crumb project thrown to them by a newer, shinier client, for which the project will likely not turn into anything - or will seem huge to Swift and no one in the industry will give a hoot. But we don’t care about the industry - we care about feeding our own egos and grooming our minions in our shadows.

    Swift has repeatedly treated its best people like trash, but coincidentally they are the ones who speak up - so everyone else is scared to death.

    Advice to Management

    Get over yourselves. It’s that plain and simple. You are not gods among men and women. ITS OK IF AN IDEA COMES from the common folks. We know what we’re doing too. Acknowledging that will not turn the place to ash and dust. Stop rewarding people with made up titles for simply following the leader.

    Swift Agency Response

    Mar 20, 2018 – COO

    Unfortunately it sounds like you were really unhappy at Swift. It’s not what we would wish for any employee and we stand by our belief that every voice matters and every individual offers unique and... More


  5. Helpful (4)

    "Was a great, small boutique agency to work for!.. Back when it was actually a small boutique agency."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Marketing in Portland, OR
    Former Employee - Marketing in Portland, OR
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Swift Agency full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    - Potential opportunities to work on visible brands, including Nike, Adidas or Hot Pockets.
    - Get the social clout associated with working at a pretentious Portland agency.
    - Kitchen is usually well-stocked with tea and snacks.
    - ... Uh, the new building is pretty sweet, I guess.

    Cons

    - Swift prides itself on its "culture," which—spoilers ahead—largely consists of having a turntable in-house and free lunches on Friday.
    - The work/life balance was an integral part of their approach when I first started with Swift, but after the merger with POSSIBLE it became clear that Swift was more interested in increasing output at the expense of its employees whilst simultaneously limiting raises and eliminating the (historically offered) holiday bonuses for non-executive employees.
    - Management touts "opportunities" for movement within Swift. However what they are generally referring to are lateral moves to a different team or position without any increase in compensation—even if it's a more demanding job.
    - The "feel" of working for Swift is tantamount to corporate culture masquerading as small agency culture—a veil that will be quickly lifted after a short time with the company. That being said, if you don't mind corporate culture, you could go elsewhere and likely get better pay for your work.

    Advice to Management

    None, really: all was irrevocably lost once Swift sold to POSSIBLE. We had a good run, though.

    Swift Agency Response

    Mar 1, 2018 – COO

    We do pride ourselves on our culture, and know that it has to be more than free lunches, turntables and well-stocked cupboards. The bedrock of our culture has always been respect - for each other... More


  6. Helpful (3)

    "Review Title Review Title Review Title"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Creative in Portland, OR
    Former Employee - Creative in Portland, OR
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Swift Agency full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    *Most of this review pertains to the creative department.*

    9/10 people at Swift will say their coworkers are the best part about Swift. That's probably because it's true. For the most part, you won't find the mega-agency ego there. People are nice. You'll find folks who genuinely like being around each other and rolling with the punches together. You will make friends and learn from them.

    Swift sets a good example for gender equality and representation. Toxic Adbros™ are awful and you wont find them at Swift (to my knowledge).

    Management cares about culture. I've seen the ups and downs of Swift, and the partners/managers have always cared about how to make the place better. Employee input is valued there, but in the past it has taken too long to implement.

    Work////life balance. This could also be seen as a con depending what role you have and the account you're on. You either work too much or you didn't expense dinner last night.

    Big clients and scrappy shoots. You won't be sitting on an animatic for six months. At Swift you work fast and smart.

    Great spot to be if you love social media.

    There are ample snacks, drinks on tap, and happy hours/parties. That should just be a cherry on top. If hummus and kombucha decide where you work, you are weird.

    Cons

    Can feel top heavy. Needs to prop up the mid/junior staff for success. Some managers feel like they're there just because they've been there. Others are fantastic to work for.

    Some of the work can feel small. Occasionally you can feel underutilized, then there are times where you get a piece of something big. At Swift it's about seeking/creating those big moments even if it means staying past 5:29 PM.

    Can feel frantic. Some of that is the nature of social media, some from clients, and some of it is from the systems/workflows in place.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to host events that empower women and include marginalized people. Set more examples. Do more and talk about it less. Others will talk about it for you.

    Keep supporting period.org.

    Continue to support directors and employees who go above and beyond.

    Compensate and support juniors/mids. Hire more interns.

    Continue to push for larger work and demand realistic timelines from clients.

    Keep the strategy and creative close.

    Avoid Possible's buzzwords.


  7. Helpful (10)

    "Anxiety-Inducing"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Swift Agency full-time

    Pros

    Standard agency perks. They care a lot about (the curated image of) culture so as others have said, they throw fun parties, lunches, events, photoshoots, etc.

    At one point, coming to Swift meant being surrounded by people you genuinely enjoyed being around - inside and outside of work.

    Cons

    Swift is an executional social production house that misleads potential new employees by selling itself as a conceptual agency.
    It’s not. The work is of micro-significance. The amount of energy you will exert for a Twitter post would be comical if not so agonizing.
    The managers micro-manage. If you are junior or mid, you will not have ownership. If you stay long enough, you will feel beat down to the point that you question your ability to even do your job.
    The culture breeds anxiety. Employees are let go, seemingly out of the blue, with zero explanation beyond “XX is no longer working at Swift.”
    The constant walking-on-eggshells feeling that you could be on the chopping block next.
    The passive-aggressive communication style from management that breeds...
    Anxiety.
    Anxiety.
    Anxiety.
    For Twitter posts.

    Advice to Management

    Practice what you preach. Stop selling your agency as something it's not.

    Swift Agency Response

    Jan 30, 2018 – COO

    It’s disappointing to hear that your experience at Swift wasn’t rewarding. The people at Swift are hands down the most important part of this company, and employees have developed deep and... More

  8. Helpful (13)

    "Could care less about fostering talent, also a dangerous place for brown people"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Swift Agency full-time

    Pros

    They put a LOT of money into their outward appearance, which means things like catered lunches, beer and wine on tap and they throw a very pretty party (because they LOVE to Instagram that type of thing)

    Cons

    --If you are mid or junior level do not expect any help or mentorship from your manager. If they do "help" you it will be through antagonizing meetings, unclear direction and plenty of fear mongering.
    --If you are any variety of brown-- ESPECIALLY black be prepared to feel like you don't belong. You will have to sit through plenty of speeches where rich white upper management talks about how awesome they are with diversity, while simultaneously sitting through meetings where slave plantations are shown and referred to as "boys running through the sugarfields" google translate is used instead of hiring Spanish speaking individuals, and your mangers talk about how there is no problem with asking people "where they are from" if they have a "funny" accent (yes this all REALLY happened)
    --Upper management does not have a ton of experience in the broader agency world, so do not expect them to help foster your career growth
    --If you like to do work that is not executing things like tweets, or pre-approved "digital activations" this is not the spot for you
    --If you are honest, communicative and excited to do more than keep your head down this is not the place for you
    --If you expect honesty and transparency this is not the place for you
    --If you want a fair salary this is not the place for you

    Advice to Management

    Start making good on all the things you get up and give speeches about, put people with experience in charge, stop promoting people to managerial positions that have no interest in leading a team and most importantly-- start putting more focus on the quality of the work.

    Swift Agency Response

    Feb 27, 2018 – Executive Creative Director

    I'm really sorry to hear that you had an unhappy experience working at Swift. We are committed to creating an inclusive, welcoming place for all people. I fundamentally believe that this is the only... More


  9. Helpful (12)

    "Artificial"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Creative in Portland, OR
    Former Employee - Creative in Portland, OR
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Swift Agency full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Once they hung up their independent agency hat, and sold out to Possible/WPP, they were able to build a brand-new building across the street with rosé on tap.

    Cons

    Like most companies, the issues at Swift start from the top. If you're someone who's worked for a range of top agencies, and you're hoping to continue working and learning from really talented leadership, this isn't the place. You'll likely have more experience than most of the partners at Swift as it's the only agency they've ever been a part of. They're bread and butter is scrappy social content, which they're still trying to desperately hold onto even though more and more of their clients are leaving to take that work in house.

    This is an agency who cares much more about their culture, than the quality of work. Normally, this is something I’d applaud, as great cultures drive great work, but the culture feels artificial. It lacks substance, it’s thinly veiled behind faux statements, faux policies, and faux promises all wrapped up in cringeworthy overly manufactured acronyms.

    If you're used to being employed at a place that embraces eccentricities and getting loose, you're going to feel like you're walking around on eggshells. It'll hinder your spirit just as much as it will your creativity. Unless you're able to play by the rules and you're comfortable putting your tail between your legs, this place is going to feel like a kick to the [censored by Swift].

    Advice to Management

    Once you can contractually leave Swift and collect your buyout from Possible, put people in charge who really know what they're doing; Talented, seasoned folks who can foster and grow great talent. Maybe loosen up a bit too.

    Swift Agency Response

    Jan 30, 2018 – COO

    It’s true we care about our culture. And our employees. And the work we create. Because we care so much, this review was hard to read. It isn’t the experience we would want anyone to have at Swift... More


  10. Helpful (14)

    "Positivity"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Swift Agency full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Swift has grown at an amazing clip over the past 3 years. With growth comes change, and with change comes disruption. But, one thing that never changed is Swift's commitment to a culture of positivity - something that typically falls by the wayside as agencies grow at such a pace. If you're looking for a place that rewards energy, values kindness, and is unafraid to evolve with the insanity of the advertising world, then Swift is a great place to land.

    Cons

    Swift is a work in progress and needs people to help them continue building. If you're looking to get a job, plug-in and cruise along, then this isn't the place for you.

    Advice to Management

    The past few years have been intense! Continue to invest in your culture. Get bigger, get better, get more creative, and build an agency that only Swift could make possible.


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