Monday, July 18, 2011

Reviewing your account again? Stop it. What´s needed is client leadership.

From time to time accounts are up for review. In the world of advertising, media, pr and marketing there is constantly a restless movement: brands fiddeling from  agency to agency, from campaign to campaign; people getting jobs, losing jobs, getting jobs, losing jobs.

Clients like to test new waters and want to prove their value by making a difference - especially if the person in charge is new at the job... But does it help?

Not if the client makes the review and then takes a nap, expecting the agencies to see good work...

It worries me that most times it doesn´t matter who the media agency is if the client is not strong enough to lead the process with 5-6 agencies involved and make them blend and do great work as a team. Too many times there is an unhealthy power struggle happening between the agencies, between the strategists, between the account directors and so on. It´s an insane and naive fight about assets, influence and power, and only a strong hand can create some professional vibes in the sand-pit. Any marketing director who believes that the agencies work for their best, must wake up. You can do a mammoth job to review your accounts and during a period listen to agency bosses wooing you, flattering you, but if you sign the papers and then leave the room, the cat-fight will unfortunately start... Swapping to a new media agency will not do miracles. Your leadership will.

When marketing directors are a part of the everyday process and push the agencies - creative, digital, media, pr, strategy, btl etcetera etcetera - to cooperate, they can truly buld a brand. When the client encourages that everyone works together, instead of meeting at a tissue session competing against one another, there is hope.

Today there are no clear boundaries and rules about who is doing what. Media agencies don´t just buy space in tv programs; they want to do strategy, content and creative work as well. BTL want to do ATL. Ad agencies wish to act like media agencies and get a chunk of the money from commissions when placing their work. Everyone wants to wear a social media suit of course, and they all want to "own" the "big idea", be the one who is close to the business and get the client´s ear. It´s like a bunch of un loved children, fighting for their mum´s attention. See me. See me. No MEEEE!

It is natural in times when competition is hard and the Us economy is about to crash, creating yet another wave of insecurity in the world. We all wish to survive and get more work. Lots of attention seeking egos (yeah, I like to influence too, that´s why we are all in this industry...) are eager to do great work and to have resources to do so. As a client you can´t blame the system to work in the way that is natural. But you can steer the ship.

I wish to come in from the side and change things on a general level, but it´s a toxic culture which can not be transformed in seconds. I´ve met one wonderful agency that works from the heart, and will start working with them properly very soon, so there are exceptions... But a single healthy agency can´t make a difference. I do believe clients need to be braver, stronger and more based in reality. Clients: Don´t listen to the smooth talk during the review period - it doesn´t matter how lovely they sound if the mix between agencies is in disharmony. Show us who´s the boss :) Wake up!

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