Creativity. It's the almighty brass ring in marketing that
you and your competitive counterparts are constantly reaching for
on the business merry-go-round. If you don't get it with one
agency, you switch horses and try again.
Every year, across the country and throughout the
industry, companies switch horses.
For all of the reasons agency changes are made, people
place creativity as the number one reason...whether or not it is
the real reason for the change is always debatable. But it is an
It far outstrips the other reasons for an agency change.
It's far ahead of poor account people...lack of knowledge and
experience in the field...agency apathy...and complacency.
The reasons most companies must come to grip with an agency
change or (in order of most frequently mentioned):
* Lack of creativity
* Poor account people
* Lack of knowledge and experience in the field
* Agency apathy or complacency
* Inadequate client service
* Lack of marketing ability
* Lack of special skills
* Poor billing practices
* Agency size
* Poor detail follow-up
* Personality problems
* Late work
* Agency greed
* Lack of advertising competence
* Disagreement on advertising approach
* Inattention by agency senior management
Regarding creativity, the most frequent comments are:
* The agency couldnt develop and execute a strong positioning statement for us
* The agency felt "cute" was creative
* The agency couldn't synthesize our unique selling
* The agency thought too small
* The agency couldn't get any life in our advertising
Regarding the competence of the agency's account people,
most changes are made in this area because the key people on the
account are either inexperienced or downright incompetent. The
other most frequent problem is the fact that there are frequent
account and creative changes at the agency. This requires the
client to be constantly training new people.
Just as in a marriage, money is one of the major stumbling
blocks. All to often, management get bills which are late, thus
totally confusing the marketing budget's cash flow. Or, they get
bills that are not detailed regarding what the client is paying
Many times, client management says the agency change was
necessary because the agency was too greedy, and had been
squeezing every dollar possible out of the account. But, that is
also a double-edged sword. From the agency side of the
discussion, agency principals state that they weren't totally
compensated for all of the work being performed.
Too often, corporate management wants all of the best work
from the agency, but isn't willing to pay the tab to receive it.
In short, they don't mind if the agency makes a profit on the
other accounts they handle, but they don't feel a profit should
be made on their account.
After all, isn't the creative satisfaction enough?
It's only good business practice that you make a reasonable
return on investment on all of the business you handle...both
within the company and within the agency.
Lack of special non-advertising skills is another reason
for agency switches. Companies are becoming more sophisticated
in their marketing communications efforts. As a result, they
demand more services from their agency. These include such areas
as publicity, trade show support, direct mail, collateral, and
Agency size is another important factor for making a
change. But it works both ways. Most often, management will
changes agencies because their past agency was too small to
provide the support needed. That means that either the company
didn't encourage the agency to grow and expand, or agency
management wasn't willing to grow as aggressively as the client
On the other hand, many times the client realizes that they
would be better of with a smaller agency, because they are not of
the size that demands attention within the agency, and they get
lost in the shuffle. In these instances, the client finds they are
getting second or third tier support, because their budget just
doesn't warrant major agency attention. However, at a smaller
agency the budget and requirements would be important, and would
receive the attention of senior talent.
While there are, or can be a lot of reasons for making an
agency change, there are even more compelling reasons why the
company and agency should work hard to "make" the relationship
First of all, it is just plain expensive to make a change
in terms of education of new people, becoming accustomed to each
other, and lost time in the program's development and execution.
But if management has done all it possibly can to make the
relationship work, and it just doesn't happen--make the change
The client/agency relationship is a lot like a marriage.
There really can't be any type of live-in relationship. Both
parties have to make a commitment to be on the same team, working
toward the same goals for the company. That means there has to
be adjustments on both sides, until thinking and acting is done
in harmony. Then the relationship is smooth, harmonious,
profitable, and mutually rewarding for all concerned.
But if it doesn't happen, divorce is inevitable. At that
point, sever the bonds that bind quickly and smoothly. Look for
and choose a new partner, and start all over again.
Hopefully, this marriage will be the one that will stick so
you can grow old together.