THE ARRANGED MARRIAGE: The appointment of a Global Advertising Agency network

By - CTL
November 30, 2017

By Dorothy Thompson.

In by gone days it would’ve been a kin to an arranged marriage. The families get together and decide at the birth of their newborn, just who they would marry. Now this is not to say that there have not been some very successful arranged marriages. Why the entire royal families of Europe practiced and prospered under these trusted arrangements for centuries.

However like many things from a bygone era, they seem less suitable today than ever before, thereby becoming the preverbal annoying and uncomfortable stone in the shoe of good and orderly advertising and marketing. The result inevitability being a source of much of the advertising and marketing conflicts that exists between clients and agencies today.

The single most frequently asked question I have heard is: “Why doesn’t my agency listen to me”?

On the flip side: “Why doesn’t the client follow my advice”?

Globalization has had many strange, unforeseen and unexpected side effects. One of the more curious is the relationship that is thrust upon Marketers from their global masters.

Somewhere in London, Paris or New York, international deals are struck and multinational clients appoint worldwide alliances with multinational Ad Agencies, this is done to supposedly to save money, keep the locals from interfering with brand imagery and messaging. Thereby supposedly keeping a tight lid on all the naughty children who might run amuck if given enough latitude.

All in all, you would, on paper think, that this is sound thinking and planning. There are however two major and a number of minor issues that it doesn’t take into consideration.

Firstly in one market an agency may be very strong, yet on another continent it may be very week and poorly resourced.

Secondly I hear you cry, use the world wide material in every market. That might be fine, but what works in North America may not work in Asia or on the sub continent. Not withstanding the ethnic diversity that is so important that the central communication message may be a worldwide proposition, but how it is presented locally may differ greatly from country to country. Without doubt it must appeal to the local market where you are trying to flog your product, something London, New York or Paris are blindly ignorant of.

A secondary issue may be if you are expecting your local marketing team to take responsibility and perform, it is very difficult to hold them to account if you are tying one hand behind their back by demanding that they fit the preverbial square peg into that pesky round hole.

From the agency side they rely on funds from their overseas Global lords and masters to service the business, as all of the fees from the international clients are paid globally to some tax haven of their head offices. Head office doles out to the branch offices with suspicion and bitterness a small portion of the Global money they receive from their Multi-National Clients. Consequently the local office that report to their worldwide masters, under resources the business because of the ridiculous accounting model they are forced to use. The net result is they believe they are losing a fortune having the business and are most reluctant to put together the real resources that they need to service to business.

The world-wide Masters, greedy for billings, do deals with multinational clients for 2-3% percent of billings rather than a reasonable fee for their services, and the whole unhealthy process is put in train. Working strictly on the basis of “if it looks to good to be true then it probably is”.

When the local agency questions the small fee their lords and masters provide, they are instructed to make up the difference by charging their local client higher fees then reasonable to make up the difference. The problem is the local clients are not mug punters and won’t pay the grossly inflated fees. OUCH!

But try as they might to argue the case with both parties defending their position publicly with vigor, whilst splitting chips, building up festering animosities that leads to the eventual breakdown of trust, the corner stone of what is necessary to foster and nurture good creative advertising and marketing.

At this stage both might be better off celibate and single. Going out on the odd date when needed.



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