9 things clients should know about their agency

By - CTL
January 11, 2017

By Charles Dodgson.

Last week we published a handy and informative list of ‘9 things an agency should know about their clients. We were inundated with angry responses…so all of you people who asked what clients simply MUST know about their agencies, here we have the answers…


1: Some agencies, especially multi-nationals under direction from head office, will convert new business wins at 100% revenue to profit.

2: There are two types of agency. One will resign an account rather than allow work they consider to be crap leave their premises. The other kind won’t. The former is almost non- existent. I once attended an agency conference entitled ‘How To Get A Reputation For Great Work.’ I asked my chairman if he meant, ‘just the reputation’ or did he actually want to do great work. He said no, just focus on reputation. At the conference I recommended firing a particular client for whom we produced awful work, in a poisonous relationship for a product that was socially on the nose. (Furs.) No luck. Less than six months later said client went into receivership owing the agency $500,000.

3: Very few creative teams know how to write scripts to a budget.

4: If you asked your agency television producer to explain the difference between music mechanical rights, music performance rights and music publishing rights very few could. A script by a major agency required the use of an extremely popular instrumental track composed by a famous contemporary musician. The agency paid for the publishing rights but aired the original recording. Trouble and embarrassment ensued.

5: New business is more important than existing business. A pitch was in progress. The prize was a big, financially orientated account. One of the competing agencies had a dilemma. They already boasted a small financially orientated account. Solution? They told their existing client they weren’t pitching and then told the potential client they had resigned the existing business. The agency forgot that financiers talk to each other as much as agency people do. The existing client fired them and they didn’t win the new account even though they were the recognised frontrunner.

6: The biggest issue facing advertising agencies (globally) right now is the US Justice Departments investigation into their in-house television production facilities. Agencies that have one rely on them for as much as 40% of their bottom line.

7: People are agencies only real assets. When one very successful London agency burnt down overnight, they proudly ran an advertisement in a newspaper the next day proclaiming that it was ‘business as usual’ as all the companies’ assets had already left the building and gone home before the fire erupted and were already hard at work in temporary digs. Great work delivered on time and on budget with a minimum of fuss should separate the wheat from the chaff.

8: Awards are very important to agencies. That’s why, if they have any, they love to display them in their foyers and offices. The Communications Council lists 13 separate award organizations in Australia alone. They include The Account Planning Group (celebrating the contribution strategic thinking makes to great creative), APG Planning Idol (celebrating under 30’s planners), Effie Awards (effective advertising), Aust Marketing Institute (national awards for marketing excellence), Australian Promotional Products Association (excellence in promotional products), Australasian Writers & Art Directors Association (creative excellence in advertising and related areas), Commercial Radio Australia (Radio Advertising), Media Federation Awards (best campaign strategies, media driven sponsorship, long term brand building sales pitch & single medium), PADC Awards Perth Art Directors Club (Art Direction), PRIA Awards Public Relations Institute Of Australia (public relations excellence), Siren Awards ( honouring excellence in commercial radio). Trade press publications Campaign Brief, Mumbrella, B&T and AD NEWS also have their own awards. Then there’s OS. Asia Pacific Ad Fest, Cannes International Advertising Festival, CLIO Awards, FAB Awards, London International Advertising Awards, OBIE Awards – the list goes on. Awards cost a lot of money to enter and attend and consume an enormous amount of head hours to prepare for. Agencies are so keen to win they often enter ads for clients they don’t have and occasionally for products that don’t exist. It’s interesting to note that a significant number of awards companies are completely independent of the industry, (except for the fact they runs awards) and make exceptionally large profits. Careers can be defined by how many awards you have after your name.

9: At any time, any agency is only one phone call away from disaster.

And there it is! Another handy list from our esteemed writer. If you would like to hear more list of salient info for creative teams across the advertising and filmmaking spectrum, then please hit us up in the comments section below!





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Email and Name is required.