Saturday, April 21, 2007

Why Agency-Client Divorce Rates Are Soaring

Give It to Me Now or Else

There is a rare breed of client out there in 2007: the one that commits to an agency through thick and thin. Look around. Read the recent articles in Advertising Age, The Wall Street Journal and others. The trend is disturbing. Agency-client relationships are shortening, averaging two years now. They're becoming project-based; retainers are being questioned and results constantly scrutinized.

Marc Brownstein
I just read that Kraft left JWT after 80 years. That's an amazing run. And extremely rare. The fact that they left now is really the story, however. It's a symptom of a shift in approach by today's marketers at client companies. When I look at my own agency, it's no different. We used to get and keep clients for many years, even decades. Now I look at my client roster and see only half are on retainer. And keeping them on retainer, and at my agency, is a daily challenge. More so than just a few years ago.

In fact, a current client of nine years just put us in review. Why? New marketing director on board, with friends at another shop. Sound familiar? (For the record, we're not re-pitching. Hell no. Great brand, mostly great people. But a no-win situation. Fortunately, we have plenty of new-business leads now, and will focus our valuable time on winning new relationships.)

Nevertheless, the short marriages between agency and clients are a problem. It's harder to get paid for strategic thinking. You have to repeatedly justify the talented team you put on the client's brand because clients constantly question fees. And when agencies want to measure ROI, getting alignment on the metrics is just a ton of fun. What we all got into the business for.

What's going on?

Some say it's pressure on marketing directors to perform. I won't argue that, but I think it's also something else. I think it's the environment in which we do business. We now operate at the speed of the internet, with fast, impersonal transactions. It's a give-it-to-me-now-or-I'm-going-elsewhere-to-get-it world. That mentality has seeped its way into our industry. You can take a client out for a round of golf to build the relationship. But if he doesn't get results on the promotion next week, he'll thank you for the 18 holes and take his business elsewhere. Nothing personal.

What that does is put agencies in a very insecure place. We never really know how long a client relationship will last even if we believe we are performing well. And the number of pitches goes up -- you have to replace the recently-departed client, as well as the recently-completed project. Exhausting!

My advice is to covet the good clients still left. Spoil them with thinking and service.

And for the project clients? Take them on if they're going to make your agency better creatively or financially, or give you experience in a new category.

But don't waste your time on the golf course. Save that for your family and friends.

by Marc Brownstein on 04.18.07 @ 01:46 PM

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nike and Don Imus

I'm a subscriber to Nike newsletters and I received this email just now. What an interesting, efficient, and cost-effective(free) way for Nike to take on the issue. Why spend $400,000+ making, producing, and placing a TV spot when you can send out a simple email?

Click to enlarge.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Pitches: No Longer a Death Sentence for Incumbents?

It used to be that a new client CMO = death sentence for incumbent agencies. Yet in the past couple months, we’ve witnessed several examples of incumbent shops beating the odds and retaining the account. MediaCom recently pitched against several other media shops and emerged the victor for Staples, even adding the UK and Canada to its existing domestic duties. Philips Electronics is re-awarding Carat London with its global media duties and Revlon has come running back to Carat after briefly handing over the reins to Initiative. To top it off, Initiative has also retained and added duties to their Big Lots account, after a review which included several other shops.

Notice that all of these incumbents are media shops. Perhaps it has to do with accountability: media shops are particularly good at pulling out the numbers and wooing clients with results and figures, while creatives…. Well, here’s a pretty storyboard we made??

Regardless of the cause, this could be a sign that incumbents may actually have a fighting chance in the crazy world of pitches.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Google buys DoubleClick for $3.1bn

Who makes huge decisions on Friday the 13th? Google does! DoubleClick, the online enabler between advertisers and agencies, was purchased yesterday by the googopoly in its biggest buyout yet--just six months after the $1.65bn YouTube acquisition. By my calculations, Google will own the entire Internet by the end of next year (really, the only things left are Wikipedia, MySpace and Facebook. And maybe Perez Hilton.).

"It has been our vision to make Internet advertising better -- less intrusive, more effective, and more useful . . . Together with Doubleclick, Google will make the Internet more efficient for end users, advertisers, and publishers." -Sergey Brin, Google co-founder and president

For some reason, antitrust laws don't apply to Google--but who's complaining? Google has made everyone's life easier by making Internet advertising--and the Internet--more relevant and less intrusive through, arguably, the best quality control systems on the planet (hehehe!). But seriously, I challenge you to give me a reason why Google Internet domination is a bad thing. Do it.

And what about after they've conquered the web? They'll begin purchasing third world countries, working their way up to the Big Seven--ultimately making the world less intrusive, more effective, and more useful! Shhh, just let it happen. It's inevitable.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Texas Exes in Super Bowl Ads Part 1

This is the first in a two part series.

Here's an interesting article. Griffin Creech, a 29 year old copywriter who graduated from UT-Austin in 1999 was also the actor in the Careerbuilder "Office Monkeys" commercials. Other campaigns where advertising agency employees are used as actors are the UPS "Whiteboard" commercials where The Martin Agency Group Creative Director, Andy Azula, is also the actor drawing on the dry-erase board and the Bud Light "Ted Ferguson" commercials where a DDB Chicago copywriter, Jeb Quaid, plays Ted Ferguson.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Voice of God gets Face Time

CNN has a story about Don LaFontaine that I think everyone should read.

The meat of the story is basically that Geico has taken the "Voice of God" and given him a face. By placing the VoG in one of their recent commercials, everyone and their dog is staring slack-jawed, saying "THAT'S what that guy looks like!" Everyone knows his voice, and now, with the help of advertising (I might add), everyone knows his face, too.

Just a little picker-upper piece that I felt the community should look at.


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