'Nice Agency' Henderson Bas Still Not Nice


Poor Henderson Bas can't catch a break. First Henderson Bas President Dawna Henderson was miffed that employees didn't properly clean their spaces during the agency's monthly Round Up and wrote a scathing email leaked to Adrants early this year. Second, upon trying to make a joke out of the event, Henderson altered the agency site to read "Please Come Back Later. We're Busy Cleaning" with a t-shirt offer and a red "As Seen on Adrants" logo but she also, alledgedly, fired the employee who leaked the email. Third, one of the agencies managers chastised underlings for not properly cleaning up after assembling some office furniture.

Now, we are told employees just can't stand the agency's "niceness" and are jumping ship. The tipster tells us, "First it was Michael Gramlow, Executive Creative Director, who left henderson bas for Dentsu. Then Colin Craig and Shane Fleming, Associate Creative Directors, bid farewell in November. Last week it was the turn of superstar Executive Creative Director Luli Radfahrer to leave the company. The well-known brazilian creative was the Agency big bet [joined agency in October]. It seems that the Nice Agency isn't able to keep its creative direction. Now there are no CDs, no ACDs, no ECDs. Just Art Directors, probably sending resumes like crazy."

So much for happy holidays at Henderson Bas.

by Steve Hall    Dec-21-06   Click to Comment   
Topic: Agencies, Bad   

Enjoy what you've read? Subscribe to Adrants Daily and receive the daily contents of this site each day along with free whitepapers.



The exodus actually began long before Gramlow left. The door hasn't stopped spinning in years. But at least there was some semblance on balance for awhile.

Graham Ameron bailed mid-summer and Brian Groves jumped ship in August.

It's too bad, there was a 'nice' group there for a while but it's all gone to shit. I personally wouldn't blame Dawna, I'd blame good ol' KK.

Merry Christmas y'all!

Posted by: actually... on December 21, 2006 1:22 PM

Santa Karma will get dawna and KK a lot of coal as stocking stuffer...

Posted by: Santa Karma on December 21, 2006 1:26 PM

For a bigtime agency - their site really sucks!

Posted by: commander Crabb on December 21, 2006 3:16 PM

henderson bas who? people - the best way to get someone in this industry is to not even act like they exist.

Posted by: EMAN on December 21, 2006 3:29 PM

Sounds like a little place I know in Austin.

Posted by: tom lout on December 21, 2006 3:57 PM

I know why I left, anyone care to elaborate on the recent departures?

Posted by: former hb'r on December 21, 2006 7:24 PM

It seems like a power trip.

These ladies deal with people like disposable cups. They forget what builds agencies like theirs is reputation. I doubt they'll be awarded from 2007 on.

Posted by: HB nevermore on December 22, 2006 10:08 AM

It seems like a power trip.

These ladies deal with people like disposable cups. They forget what builds agencies like theirs is reputation. I doubt they'll be awarded from 2007 on.

Posted by: HB nevermore on December 22, 2006 10:09 AM

Don't know if it's a power trip, and don't care. These people just seem to be rude and out-of-touch.

I'd last there one second if some harpy told me I had to clean the agency.

Lady, ya got a cleaning crew working for you, right?

If not, look in the Yellow Pages.

Posted by: Bob on December 29, 2006 9:29 AM

Just to add a bit of balance here... To read Adrants users review of Henderson Bas as the puppy-mill of the online-agency world surprises me. I was there 5 years and my experience was very different. In fact, I remember Dawna hiring me during the dot-com bust (giving me a much needed break). She was General Manager back then and had a rare faith in the medium when everyone else was panicking and firing people. I did some great work there and met some brilliant creative people.. and left happy.

Say what you will - you're entitled to an opinion, but the woman has put in her time and paid her dues. She may make the odd goofy decision, but I believe that comes more from being really passionate about her company than from a place of malice.

Posted by: Phil Bonnell on January 11, 2007 3:51 PM

What can you say? Every agency has it's skeletons. Most agencies work their people hard. That's not news. After all, it's a tough biz and it's tricky to be successful.

Having been the CD there for over 3 years, I know hb can be a hard place to work. But for me, it was also an amazing, experience. The work was fun, the clients were daring at times, and the people we're great to work with... including Dawna and Kathy. Both of them care passionately about the agency.

In my opinion, people, including myself, have left for new opportunities rather than an innate dissatisfaction. This won't be true for everyone. But for many. And, as I said, for myself.

I know Dawna and Kathy do their utmost to balance the needs of staff, the needs of clients, and the needs of the agency itself. It's not an easy thing to do. But to Dawna's credit, she's managed to keep hb's doors open despite turnover and the instability of the interactive business in general. You can't argue with that.

Can they improve staff retention? Yes. Can they get better? Sure.

Personally, I wish them the best of luck in weathering this latest storm.

Jon Finkelstein

Posted by: jon Finkelstein on January 11, 2007 3:52 PM

I can say a few things about that last comment actually. This agency seems to have more skeletons in it's closet than most. In fact I can't think of another agency in Toronto that has had as many people leave that place in their wake with a bitter taste of "innate dissatisfaction" not like I am keeping track but here in Toronto everyone knows everyone and this this agency has had a higher turnover ratio than most.
In fact I know a lot of former HB employees - you included.

SO...isn't that what brought the focus of this article to Adrants in the first place? I am not trying to argue the fact that yes - "the doors are still open there" but i will contest pretty much everything else... The reason for those initial 3 articles to even be posted on Adrants in the first place is because they are all ridiculous truths about the company!!!

If they weren't true - they would have been yanked from Adrants immediately at the request of DH's legal team. To quote Phil B's brilliant SimonWood.com site "it's not slander if it's true".

However since these instances remain uncontested truths about the company let me get to my point. I was there for a very brief period of 1 month and was recently let go and for what they wouldn't say. While I was there I can say first hand that it was the worst place I have ever worked at...(and I have worked at some shit hole places) DH and KK remind me of two people that have the let their absolute authority go to their heads...If you are not working around the clock for them whether you are sick or not you are blacklisted and labeled as someone who doesn't care about their job.

The agency is set up like a sick little social club - kind of like High School all over again with no function for their form to follow. The employees there that I talked to all complained about the working conditions but are working in fear of DH's tyrannical rules. I don't think that they realize that the actions they take have real effects on the people that bust their asses for them on a daily basis... I mean I was there 1 month and worked every weekend I was there but the Managers mid level and up are all enjoying their evenings and weekends as they see fit.

The current design staff are mostly young and inexperienced with a few exceptions...So what you have is an agency trying to live up to its former level of ability but riding on the backs of a bunch of Jr. designers.. I will admit that HB once had a great team of people working there and it WAS a good place to work but this society that they have in place there now doesn't show any promise of getting back to it's former glory - in fact it only seems to be degenerating into obscurity.

So are you still saying that DH and KK do their utmost best to balance the needs of their staff?
because when I was there things couldn't have been more to the contrary... two people getting rich(er) off the sweat of stressed out..underpaid junior designers

Posted by: jason doherty on March 1, 2007 3:47 PM

Well said. HB is a really sorry excuse for an agency. It is telling that they aren't able to retain any high level Creatives. They should just accept their fate as a production shop executing other agency's creative online, which they don't even do well. Too bad, the future could have been bright.

Posted by: Dan on April 13, 2007 9:27 PM

Hey Jason... if that in fact is your real name...

If you were only there for a month, I've got something to tell you, you probably shouldn't have been there at all.

Your diatribe is not only speckled with jealousy and ignorance but with spite and envy.

I did my time at hb and yes I eventually left. But I gotta say, it sure as hell feels good to still get calls and emails, from friends and ex-coworkers, alike congratulating me on yet another award garnered for work I hand in creating while I was there.

It's a feeling not everyone, especially those who couldn't last more than a month, have the chance to experience.

Good luck to you.

Posted by: brian groves on April 20, 2007 11:34 AM

I'm surprised there aren't more posts here looking at the turn around numbers within HB.

HB are the Nice Agency? Wow! That's true if by "Nice" they mean...

N- Noseying around in an employee non-work/personal email accounts while they're on sick days. Then upper management feels it clever and acceptable to send those employees emails referring to details in said personal email. How cryptically clever {rub hands together} they are.

I - Insisting employees drink as much as possible (or amuse those who are drinking) to fit in right from the get-go. The more you drink the more you're liked.
NOTE: This can be a cool thing if you're already an alcoholic, trying to become an alcoholic, you are currently a member of a frat house, or you live in the year 1985 when this is how the ad industry operated.

C- Canning an employees ass with no prior warning 2 days after moving the employees from their desk of 2 years to what can only be described as a storage area/hallway... tsk... tsk! Sad but true.
NOTE: See the movie Office Space for an accurate account of how this transpired.

E- Escorting the employee from the building after offering them the minimum 2 weeks pay with "or without" benefits (one year for every YEAR worked). Insisting that employees sign a non-disclosure agreement which states "If you don't sign and agree not to talk about life inside HB you won't have ANY BENEFITS FOR THE 2 WEEKS" knowing all along that the employee has 2 small children at home with no other source of private health care.
NOTE: This may be legal, but that doesn't mean it isn't slimy (or "nice" however you want to think about it).

Anyway, in conclusion, HB has some great people and a few not so great people. If you're on the good side of management, be it fake or otherwise (I must confess I was leaned more toward the former - and let me just say that being fake nice to upper management at HB wasn't an easy task as many current employees can silently validate), and don't have any commitments outside of work that can't be immediately scrapped faster than you can say "Ctrl-Alt-Delete" then you may just thrive.

What does it say about a company when their PowerPoint pitch presentation consists mostly of work done long, long, long ago for accounts that have long since jumped ship?

But hey, they have beer in the fridge and guitar hero so it must be a great place to work right? ...Right?

Posted by: Aaron on October 17, 2008 12:17 AM

Featured FREE Resource: