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Jon Ollier: ‘The agency world has been shaken to its core’

The One Fiinix Live founder talks control, CAA, the new agency landscape and life as an independent

By IQ on 07 Dec 2020

Jon Ollier, CEO, One Fiinix Live

Ollier left CAA in October


Ed Sheeran agent Jon Ollier says hopes to help talented booking agents regain a sense of control after the devastating events of 2020 with his new venture, One Fiinix Live.

Speaking to IQ after the launch of One Fiinix last month, Ollier explained the agency’s unusual name, which was inspired by his eldest daughter’s middle name, Phoenix: “One Fiinix wasn’t necessarily named after her, but it comes from the same place,” he says. “When she was born, it was a cataclysm, and we’re in a similar situation now. A phoenix symbolises hope, rebirth, immortality, and new beginnings…”

In addition to Sheeran, Ollier takes the likes of Anne-Marie, JC Stewart, Lauv and 2Cellos to One Fiinix, which he set up following his exit from CAA in October after nearly six years at the agency.

Ollier says he looks back fondly at his tenure at CAA, which he describes as a “fantastic company” about which one “can’t say enough good things”.

“It was a very amicable exit from CAA, which came after lots and lots of discussion,” he explains. “They were very good to me.”

“I want to be able to look my kids in the eyes and tell them I did all I could to make sure we came out of this stronger”

However, as time went on, the impact of coronavirus on the major agency sector – and the opportunities presented by striking out on one’s own – became too difficult to ignore, continues Ollier. “No one single factor led me to this decision – if that was the case, I’d probably be foolish – but a major factor is the reaction to Covid-19.

“As agents, we’re problem solvers – we make things happen – but at the moment, the whole live business is being asked to just sit things out, and I’m not very good at doing that. I’ve got young kids and I want to be able to look them in the eyes in years to come and tell them I did all I could to make sure we came out of this stronger.”

Like his colleagues in the independent agency world, Ollier believes the crisis of 2020 has done much to shift the balance of the power in the agency sector.

“The business models of the big companies are not designed to withstand a pandemic. That’s not a criticism of anyone in particular – everyone has been far too complacent,” he says. The reality is that the major agencies have a huge amount of overheads, huge numbers of staff, and they’re not really able to move quickly in terms of making decisions and engineering their way out of it [the crisis].

“When the times were good, agents were being paid well and looked after by a company that seemed like it cared. But now, that whole concept has been shaken to the core. Agents need to feel a bit more like they’re in control.”

“Agents need to feel a bit more like they’re in control”

For those agents who feel like they’ve lost control of their destinies, Ollier has one simple message: Get in touch.

“So many people are clinging to this life raft, which is the job they’ve got, but which they don’t feel they have a future in,” he says, “and my job is to say, ‘Let go of the life raft.’”

Ollier says he sees One Fiinix – currently just him and longtime colleague Emma Davis – becoming a “collective of individuals who are empowered to go out and there are make deals”. “I’ve always wondered why we have a department for this, a department for that, when everyone in those departments is more than capable of going and getting a deal,” he explains.

While the new agency will have an office, the plan is to be less “departmentalised” and with more focus on its people, Ollier adds.

“At the moment, all I’m saying to people is, ‘How can I be supportive? Come and talk to me and let’s generate some ideas,’” he continues.

“Ultimately, we would like to help some people out. I’ve been helped out over the course of my career, and we all need that – no one is an island. So what I’m saying to people is: let’s get collaborative, let’s get creative, and let’s build our way out of this, however that manifests, in a mutually beneficial way.”

 


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