Marketers: how to get better work from your agency

Dear marketer, I think you ought to treat your agency better.

Not for their sake, but for your own and your company’s.

As a freelancer I work at a lot of London agencies. And I see the effects your decisions have on the great campaigns they create for you.

So often, excellent ideas (and they’re not necessarily mine) are killed or watered down by your company’s approval process.

Why can’t your agency’s people present their work directly to your decision makers? They used to do that many years ago.

Why do they have to show it to a junior marketer who takes it away to show to a senior person the agency never gets to see?

Why can’t you see the sense in paying extra for original photography instead of using cheap stock photography that looks like every other advertiser’s?

And why oh why – I can’t believe I’m seeing this – are you taking the ideas the agency produces for you away to let your internal studio produce them?  This probably saves you money in the short term, but those ideas need to be crafted by the people who came up with them. Your studio will never give them the care and attention that their creators would. So you’ll end up with an inferior version of the campaign that the agency presented to you.

Then what will you do if your campaign doesn’t deliver the results you hoped for? Will you point your finger at your agency? Or someone else?

2 replies
  1. Chris Catchpole
    Chris Catchpole says:

    The main issue here Dean is the utter subservience of agencies now. The client/supplier relationship has been reduced to master/slave. It’s so much easier to just say ‘yes’ and bend to a client’s every whim than fight your corner. When you do, you’re marked as difficult, confrontational, obstructive. There are so many alternative agencies promising the earth for smaller and smaller budgets, so why stick with the ones who don’t do as they’re told? What I’m finding particularly difficult to understand is why so much emphasis/money is put into media costs at the expense of origination. It seems now clients (unchallenged by their agencies) would rather run a poorly executed ad more often than a well produced one fewer times.
    The definition of good now is what’s quick and cheap. Ideas are free – we only get paid for execution. When you’re paid by the hour, it is no longer about quality, simply how much you can get done in the time.
    And this is all compounded by the disappointment that campaigns you previously had rejected by one client are produced by another, win amazing accolades and catapult the client’s business forwards. I don’t mean stolen ideas, just the ones that never made it. I would love to see the day when an ex client emails me apologising for not running the work we presented after seeing the success the idea gas delivered elsewhere.
    I do wonder if there was a client exam, how many would pass.
    Clients and agencies see the world through very different eyes. I believe the truth is that it’s money that gets in the way of great work. Not the money to create or run it, more the fear of losing it should you question a client’s decision.
    I have a theory about awards. When I judge them, if it’s a good piece of work, it probably started out great. If average, it was probably good at the start. If it’s great, there was probably no client involvement.
    Worryingly though, even when brilliant campaigns are produced, clients still leave agencies. The Queensland Tourist Board left Sapient Nitro after their outstanding Best Job in the World went global. Anomaly and Diesel have split after the inspired Stupid campaign. Loyalty is now in very short supply. Grab the cash and run seems to be the order of the day.
    I think the whole industry needs a form of marriage guidance counselling. Arbitration to help both sides reignite their mutual respect and confidence. Otherwise the work will continue to suffer and so will the results, with each side blaming the other.

  2. Dean
    Dean says:

    Wow. Chris, thank you for that. Lots of food for thought. (Any marketers reading, I’d love to know what you think.)

    Like you, Chris, I’m mystified as to why clients spend so much on media, but seem not to care about how their work’s going to look when it runs. Cutting corners on production quality can seriously diminsh the impact of our work, can’t it.

    I wasn’t aware that The Queeensland Tourist Board split with Nitro. Sounds to me like a crazy move.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.