What’s straining the Agency-Marketer relationship today?


 by adage.com 

 

JIM STENGEL, FORMER PROCTER & GAMBLE CO. GLOBAL CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, MARKETING CONSULTANT:

“Too many agencies are wondering, ‘Am I going to have a job six months from now? What does my client really think?’ When the agency doesn’t know where it stands or if the client believes in it, it becomes dysfunctional. That’s the biggest thing that’s missing. If the client’s not happy, get on with it. Tell them what’s wrong and what they need to do. Marketers also shouldn’t be afraid to challenge their agencies. The best teams ask outrageous questions of their agencies. And agencies love that. And when you answer those, you get great work.”

  

SUSAN CREDLE, CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER, LEO BURNETT USA:

“There is a bottom-line issue that is affecting all of us, not just agencies — clients are being asked to deliver more. When I started in this business in 1985, the production budgets then felt like they were higher than they are today. Some of it makes sense, because you can do a lot more for less with technology. I just hope we don’t sacrifice quality. We’re treating ideas as commodities, and sometimes the worst idea is funded the same as the best idea.”

 

 

KESTER FIELDING, GLOBAL DEMAND PROCUREMENT DIRECTOR AT DIAGEO:

“Design and creative agencies are better than media agencies at convincing brands that they have the brands’ interests at heart. That may explain some of the pressure media agencies feel from clients, and some of the reason clients seem to view media as a commodity more than certain other crucial areas.”

 

 

KIMBERLY ORTON, DIRECTOR, EFFECTIVEBRANDS:

“Huge tension exists as marketers and agencies strive to globalize. What’s the domain of global marketing teams and their agency counterparts? What’s the purview of local teams and their agency counterparts? Often today the desire to take advantage of opportunities and the need to get to market first are so great that less thought is given to how that should be done — inside the marketer, as well as inside its agencies.”

 

 

TIM CALKINS, CLINICAL PROFESSOR-MARKETING AT THE KELLOGG SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT:

“It’s very hard to figure out what’s appropriate compensation. You go back 10, 15 years ago, and people knew how to pay a traditional agency. But now it’s very hard. What do you pay somebody when they’re setting up a Facebook page? That gets very confusing. That’s why you get some of these purchasing departments getting involved. And that creates tension because there’s no generally accepted formula.”

 

 

DAVID JONES, GLOBAL CEO OF HAVAS WORLDWIDE AND EURO RSCG WORLDWIDE:

“It’s probably the same dynamic that has played out for a few years now: Clients want better, faster, cheaper. If you as an agency can do that you’re in a good space. Most clients today want to pay less for doing the same job they would have five years ago.”

 

 

RUSSEL WOHLWERTH, ARK ADVISORS:

“What you saw in the past was a much tighter collaborative relationship between agencies and clients. There are still a lot of questions in corporate America about the power of advertising. There is also procurement — which we should support as a discipline — but not everyone in America is using it as a strategic discipline, they are using it as a cost-cutting discipline. Agencies continue to struggle to demonstrate their value.”

 

 

PAUL PRICE, GLOBAL PRESIDENT OF OMNICOM GROUP’S RAPP:

“[There’s] impatience for efficiency and effectiveness with little or no compromise toward delivering either. There are higher expectations of accountability from clients driving the need for more rigorous and relevant creativity. This is an enormous force for change in marketer-agency relations because of its impact on the way both do business.”

 

 

ALAN COHEN, U.S. CEO OF OMNICOM GROUP’S OMD:

“One of our biggest challenges as an industry is that as the consumer has faced millions of media choices, the agency landscape has fragmented as well. We are challenged by some clients that have upward of 10 or 15 agencies and, while [they are] all “microspecialists,” sometimes that hurts our ability to develop a cohesive strategy. We all know that the same consumer is online and offline — sometimes at the same time!”

 

 

RANJAY GULATI, PROFESSOR-BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, HARVARD UNIVERSITY:

“This contradictory tension [is] between someone who can solve my business problem but who also can be price-competitive. Once you deliver real value to the client you deflect that focus on price. The conversation should be about value.”

 


How can the relationship be improved?

 
ANGELIQUE KREMBS, DIRECTOR OF MARKETING, SOBE:

“Those relationships that allow for change as culture and climate evolve should be fine. I am a firm believer in flexibility in this economic environment and in this consumer-led environment. The agency-marketer relationships that build in flexibility have a greater chance for success.”

 

 

TONY PALMER, CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER OF KIMBERLY-CLARK:

“Have senior, seasoned impact players on the front line (who are experts doing what the client can’t do vs. what the client doesn’t have time to do) focused on deploying their creativity on ideas that drive client’s business. Be focused on value creation, embrace and use data and analytics to elevate work, and be collaborative.”

 

 

RICHARD EDELMAN, GLOBAL CEO OF EDELMAN:

“We have got to be more comfortable experimenting with different models. So maybe a client just needs execution people or a lot of young people who are great with social media. We don’t always have to give them the pyramidal structure of senior VP and account supervisor. We’re doing models that suit us, and I’m not sure that’s so smart. We also have to take the risk of saying our media mix has changed, and here’s a better strategy. We shouldn’t stay in our little boxes of execution. … We have to be brave enough to take that risk.”

 

 

RICHARD BEAVEN, WORLDWIDE CEO OF INTERPUBLIC GROUP OF COS.’ INITIATIVE:

“The opportunity for improvement centers on an ability to find new models that link price, performance and value. Within that, agencies must have the ability to track, measure and synthesize, and this must be synchronized with client objectives. The best discussions occur when the marketing and procurement functions are unified and seeking value in all areas.”

 

 

TIM CALKINS, CLINICAL PROFESSOR- MARKETING AT THE KELLOGG SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT:

“You really need clear alignment on goals between agency and client. And people need to think about, what are the deliverables? And what are the expectations? Often where you see trouble is when there’s confusion as to what somebody is thinking they’re getting and what somebody thinks they’re delivering. Eventually what marketers will need to get to is an understanding that this all takes real resources and real money to do great work on the agency’s part. Clearly, there’s an onus on both sides. As we learn more about how to evaluate some of the new marketing tools that we now have, it will be easier to structure the agreement.”

 

 

PHIL COWDELL, CEO OF MINDSHARE, NORTH AMERICA:

“The keys to improving the relationship are clarity, better understanding of who can do what versus the hyperbole of promise and less of the promises made on PowerPoint and more substance of delivery of business results. Everyone relaxes a bit when they know it’s working.”

 

 

KIMBERLY ORTON, DIRECTOR, EFFECTIVEBRANDS:

“Assessing the goal and then clarifying roles and responsibilities of teams within the marketer’s organization and the agency’s … and ensuring that team members have the proper skills and experience to get the job done according to regional market needs as well as global ones are crucial. Finally, budgets must be aligned, and leaders must sign off on the new model of working together.”

 

 

HARRIS DIAMOND, GLOBAL CEO OF INTERPUBLIC GROUP OF COS.’ WEBER SHANDWICK:

“It’s all the normal issues … great clients are ones that bring you in and make you a partner rather than a vendor. The No. 1 thing to make things better is, as long as you are at the table they make you a full partner. The second an agency accepts a lesser status or a client imposes a lesser status on them is the second the relationship goes into a downward spiral.”

 

 

PAUL PRICE, GLOBAL PRESIDENT OF OMNICOM GROUP’S RAPP:

“Efficient and effective creative solutions are more likely to come from marketers and agencies who work together seamlessly. Great creativity starts with great teamwork founded on mutual understanding and open minds.”


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