The term "boutique agency" is used in several different ways. In the advertising community, the term is used for an advertising agency that focuses primarily on the creative aspects of developing advertisements. In the creative community, such agencies are small companies that represent a limited client list and offer highly personalized service. There are advantages and disadvantages to working with either kind of agency.
In the sense of of an advertising agency, boutique agencies do not focus on developing campaigns and studying demographics; their work is creative in nature. They usually have small staffs and may work with contract workers and freelancers to get a specific look and feel for particular projects. Clients approach them when they want high quality creative work. Larger advertising agencies may refer clients to these smaller, creation-focused agencies when it comes to developing the look of advertisements and campaigns.
A boutique agency tends to keep its client list short, and it can be highly selective about the types of jobs it accepts. Staff members are highly qualified and respected artists and creators. These agencies can develop print and video advertising, along with copywriting for ad campaigns, and the end result is highly individualized and personalized. Companies that want to run ad campaigns that stand out creatively may opt to work with a such an agency.
Creative professionals, like writers, actors, and models can opt to work with a boutique agency for representation. Representation is often required for certain areas of the creative industry; many publishing houses, for example, will only accept queries from agents, not directly from writers. Such agencies are small, represent a variety of clients, and provide very hands on, personal service. They are often more willing to take a risk on clients, providing a launch point for someone's career. Some very noted actors, writers, and models started with this type of agency.
While such companies are small, they are often highly respected in the industry and can include staff members with extensive connections and networking abilities. Being represented by this type of agency can provide someone with opportunities that might not be available through larger companies. These agents also work very hard on behalf of their clients and can take time to focus on packaging a client to be appealing, an option that may not be available to people in agencies with big client lists. Many agencies are referral-only and very choosy about who they are willing to represent.