Thursday, April 22, 2010

Of Kids, Dogs and Dirty buckets ... Part I

Last week an ad friend of mine, now with the other side, working as a brand manager of a leading FMCG firm told me a tale of how their agency took them for a ride at both the creative level and the strategy level but worse..... at the relationship level as well.. This at a time when every client is very very important for its agency and every penny counts….It doesn’t require any research to reveal number of Achilles' heel in the armour of advertising agencies. It is often discussed but then until it is repeated, as the ad dictum goes it doesn’t become the truth…. And until it is said again and again no one really listens to…

Ad agencies are often insulted and designated as ineffectual and incapable, are condemned for their reluctance to study and learn new things, update, change and renew old formula… How true it is that last one week during the IPL mela, I saw two different detergent powder ads with the age old- One dirty bucket – one clean bucket formula…. one was Tide and the other one.. I don’t remember but it doesn’t matter.. the formula is the question now….So perhaps, there is no better time than now for ad agencies to take a reality check….It is late but better late than never…..

Again one does not need do research to know that agencies which take inventiveness and action to make and maintain relationships are valued and regarded as great by clients. Termination of contracts, I have seen happening despite close working relationships, between the clients and its agencies and this despite the best of articulated client satisfaction, and the agency’s belief in its own performance. The more highly valued relationships are those with higher degrees of agency involvement in the client’s business and for this both of these parties have to think and act like one soul…..

In response to demands of an ever demanding markets (and marketers), agencies (large medium and small) are seeking to position themselves as strategic partners with clients. Most of them rebuff the “advertising agency” tag,in aspiration to change the position as “idea companies” or “solution providers”. A number of them are taking on “brand initiatives,” in which agencies become “business partners with their clients, not just advertising agents to their clients.” Some of them whom I work closely with, like to call themselves as "bliss-partners" ( now the interpretation is yours.. let loose your dirty mind!)

Before an agency aspires such great stuff as said above there are certain basics...

Hands-on response from an agency is what a client expect the foremost but alas that is a thing of the past….. At Euro RSCG London where I worked ten years back, (when internet was in but there were no blogs, twitter etc) at office one morning I saw a huge discussion about an article that appeared in a tabloid about an ad that the agency had made.. Good review but the credits were not given… I remember the efforts that was taken to find out the writer who said good words about the said ad and he was politely reminded that the credits if given would have been really great… and the same me now in 2010 to write some good stuff about an ad needed some more info and of course the credit part as well take pains to find the agencies Delhi number, call and talk to the larger than life executives, mail them , remind them and after waiting for two days decides to go on air without credits…. No reply so far and that I simply will call it ‘insensitivity’ on the agency’s part….

As a blogger I would anyways write what I want to, but if this is the response that some one gets to his calls and mails, from a main stream agency, I guess advertising is a lunatic and needs some real shock therapy

Proactive behavior is the need of the hour and it is not only with the existing world that the agency works, but should expand the prospect possibility beyond that dictated by its clients, current customers, products and business boundaries….. Such an approach involves making out and utilising new openings, leveraging resources, and creating new sources of value… But then they should be open… the agency world of today is more about talk and less about walk… after all if all the talk about strategy and such stuff where true, who do we see so many kids, dogs and dirty buckets in advertising?

Foot note :-
"No road is long with good company". ~Turkish Proverb

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