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February 22, 2017


Congratulations on finding a place you enjoy working.
I have an off topic question about preferring long over short-term strategies that dominate current agencies' rhetoric.
Agencies, and especially planners, have always been interested going one layer deeper in solving business problems rather than brand or communication problems. Or at least it appears from the outside. Taking into account that business problems could be solved without any help from an agency (the biggest global apparel brand Zara has £0 advertising budget; Amazon's Dash button and etc.), would a planner recommend a potentially detrimental solution to the agency's short-term bottom line, but cost saving or profit making for the client?

p.s. I'm not working in an agency, nor client side.

Hi,good question.
It's totally fair to point out that agencies are very good at thinking about advertising rather than business, sometimes, as you suggest, the best thing you can do isn't advertising at all, and sometimes the role of consumer advertising isn't about consumers but sending a message to the trade or building shareholder confidence.
The problem is with some agencies (media and creative and digital) with specific targets based on wider group objectives, who try and get the client to do heavy campaigns to hit those targets.
But it's also with clients who brief the agency on advertising problems, not even marketing problems.
The best relationships are those where an agency, like a lawyer,or dentist, is hired for their expertise, consultants in other words. The problem tends to be too many agencies give away great ideas and thinking for free, rather than added value. It's also clients who pay for number of hours or tangible 'stuff'.
You go to the dentist for a check-up. Corporate lawyers are kept in retainers and rarely go to court, they give advice so clients don't have to.
The best agency and client relationships work on agencies being paid well for their advice, or the quality of their output, rather than their 'output'.
And performance related pay comes into play here, where it may or not be based on 'results' but the quality of service levels and relationships.
The best planners have to be commercial, but are able to deliver neutral advice and help on all sorts of stuff. I'm not a very good planner, but I still end up spending a massive chunk of my time in NPD workshops, distribution meetings and such.
Just like suits thinking you're on their side, and the creatives thinking you're on theirs, when it comes to agency v client you need to find a way to deliver great, neutral advice that doesn't shaft the bottom line.

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