Do Clients Get The Agencies They Deserve?

You’ve likely heard David Ogilvy’s famous words, ‘clients get the advertising they deserve’ but when it comes to their agencies… do clients get the agencies they deserve? Over the last seven years or so, we’ve done enough marketer problem resolution work and agency searches to be able to answer that question with some conviction. The answer is unequivocally, yes. Invariably, agency relationship challenges can be traced back to their marketing masters and are a reflection of how the agency is being managed. But if you’re reading this with some scepticism and thinking, wait a minute, this is like saying dogs look their owners – consider these behavioural attributes: Continue reading

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Take the Pledge! End Madison Avenue’s Manslaughter!

Madison Avenue’s self-destructive practices need to come to an end!  In the wake of a decade or more of marketing cost reductions, CMOs have lost credibility and power; procurement departments have confused benchmarking with marketing, and demoralised agencies have seen their capabilities severely compromised through downsizing, juniorising, and Scope of Work inflation. Cost reduction programs have run their course. They were never a credible substitute for brand growth as a way of delivering shareholder value. Continue reading

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The challenges facing Automotive marketers in selecting new agencies – Three case studies

Share48 Tweet64 +1 Share10Shares 122The automotive industry is being disrupted globally. Electric motor vehicles like the Tesla are providing a viable and desirable alternative to the fossil fuels of the past. Diesel technology has been shown not to be as … Continue reading

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The Ad Industry at War with Itself

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the publication of ANA’s “media transparency” recommendations, which followed a major investigation of media agency practices. Lest we forget how central media transparency is to ANA, Bob Liodice (President and CEO of ANA) and Doug Wood (outside legal counsel) published a MediaVillage article in mid-July reminding us that “if the allegations against the [media] agencies are true, the behaviour is reminiscent of past high-profile financial scandals.” Continue reading

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Managing Marketing: The importance of understanding culture to stay relevant in a changing world

Sharon Foo is the Client Partner at Sparks & Honey and she talks with Darren on the importance of diversity, data, and technology in understanding the cultural changes occurring in society and staying relevant to your audience, allowing you to change to meet the future needs of the market. Continue reading

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Who’s Guilty and Who’s Innocent in the Industry’s Transparency Wars?

Bill Duggan recently penned a piece in MediaVillage.com continuing the ANA’s attack on ad agencies – this time over production transparency, which is the code name for unethical and possibly illegal bid-rigging activities conducted by some agencies to secure production contracts at favourable rates. A previous transparency issue, media transparency, was investigated by ANA in 2016, and it confirmed instances of media agencies enriching themselves at client expense through rebates, kickbacks and other “non-transparent” practices, many of them not forbidden by existing contracts. Continue reading

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ANA and 4As Duke It Out in a Complete Mismatch

ANA, ever-faithful and aggressive on behalf of its advertiser members, struck a second blow to 4As recently — a right uppercut to the chin — with a new ANA study of advertising production practices. The report detailed “a range of improper behaviour, including allegations that some agencies have steered production contracts to their in-house production and post-production outfits by urging other companies to inflate their prices during the bidding process,” as reported in WSJ. Continue reading

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Losing pitches, part 2: a further 7 ‘less obvious’ reasons why agencies lose pitches

I recently wrote an article about some of the less obvious reasons that an agency, after all the hard work involved, can end up losing a pitch.

Well. After thousands of reads, shares and a number of comments (most of them made privately to me, as is the norm with this sensitive topic) it seems that the article generated some interest – whether you agreed with the content or not. Continue reading

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How many agencies is too many when it comes to roster size?

A very common complaint we hear is “How did I end up with so many agencies?” usually closely followed by the question “How many agencies should I have?” And while Nathan Hodges has answered this comprehensively here, it is interesting that marketers often find themselves with way too many agencies on their roster either because they have inherited a roster that is out of control or it has grown organically right under the nose of the marketing team. Continue reading

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Ad Agencies: Prisoners of a Creative Past

Who needed “hands-on management” when revenues were high and automatic, workloads modest, TV dominant, creativity celebrated, brands growing, agencies respected, employees well-paid, parties outrageous and clients long-lasting? Creativity was the foundation of agency success, and to nourish creativity, management got out of the way, lest its intervention destroy the magic. “A creative agency needs to operate like an ant colony,” declared Kevin Roberts, former CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, “where every ant knows its job and has the freedom to do it. As long as we hire and inspire the right people, to do the right thing … our agency should grow and our creativity should flourish.” Continue reading

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Struggling with your strategy? Try the Costanza Maneuver

Much of the consulting work we do with marketers and their organisations involves aligning structure and process to the strategy, be it marketing structure or agency roster structure. Of course to effectively deliver this work requires a clear articulation of the business and marketing strategy, which can be a challenge to find. Not because there is not strategy. On the contrary, there are often too many strategies. But also there is often confusion over the strategy and the objective(s). Continue reading

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“Creativity” Versus “Improved Results”: The Paradigm Needs to Change

Ad agencies and advertisers are victims of the belief that “creativity” is the basis of their current relationships, and that “more creativity” will give them more of what they need. Ad agencies have promoted “creativity” since the days of Bill Bernbach, more than 50 years ago, when agencies were at the top of their game. Advertisers, as their clients, continue to hire agencies for their perceived creativity, provided costs are rock bottom. However, “creativity” is no longer delivering improved brand performance or increasing shareholder value. The search for more creativity is making victims of agencies and CMOs alike — neither lasts very long in a relationship. It’s time for a new paradigm. The “Creative Paradigm” is out of date. It’s not working. Continue reading

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Do you remunerate or compensate your agency?

This is the second in a series of one minute videos that address the many complex challenges facing marketing, media and advertising today. The Golden Minute series is an attempt to prove Albert Einstein right when he said “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple”. But he also said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”. So we will leave it for you to judge. Please let us know here if there is a topic you would like us to cover in a Golden Minute. Continue reading

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Ad Agencies are Just Like Cruise Ships

We don’t see many Big Ideas any more. Content may be king, but content is forgettable, millions of tiny ideas in a million different places. Can anything new be said about a product? Or an industry, like the advertising industry? Well, I’m not a creative — more like a dreaded management consultant. Nevertheless, here’s a cross-industry Big Idea, free for the asking: Ad agencies are just like cruise ships! Don’t dismiss this out of hand. Read on! Continue reading

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Agencies Struggle with Declining Prices

Since 1992, the average price for creative agency deliverables has declined by 70% in today’s dollars, according to my research [1] for Madison Avenue Manslaughter.
Nevertheless, agencies have managed to deliver growing profit margins for their owners throughout this 25-year period. How was this possible? Are agencies still “fat,” as many procurement executives believe, or have they starved themselves to generate profits in the face of declining prices? Continue reading

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