A view from Paul Bainsfair

There are no shortcuts to advertising excellence

We were surprised at the timing of the independent ISBA review of the agency community, and wonder if it helps or hinders the dialogue we are already engaged in.

It has been no secret that we have spent the past 18 months inclusively debating how clients and agencies can meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world. We have covered the importance of partnerships over pitching, seen examples of diversification, discussed the advantages and disadvantages of responding in real time, and debated the positioning differences of cost and value, and the importance of attracting the right talent and how that impacts on the bottom line when there is churn.

And we have worked across the industry in seeking to hack solutions. We feel we have made progress, too, with an emerging Performance Charter, which we hope will help the industry move forward on these points.

The role of the agency today is undoubtedly a more complex one. We know the UK leads the world in understanding marketing payback, and we also know that enlightened clients are asking agencies to help them add value to their businesses. There is evidence all around us that agencies continue to do a brilliant job. We also know that agencies feel that the marketing fraternity often does not involve agencies in the business objectives that will be the KPIs and measures for success.

If clients want to improve their agency relationships, the most important point every survey makes is that clients and agencies that invest in each other financially and emotionally have the longest and strongest relationships, and produce the best work. There are no shortcuts.

We know it takes three years to bed down a client/agency relationship. Anything less will be unsatisfactory

We also know it takes three years to really bed down a relationship and that anything less will be unsatisfactory for both sides.

This is the message for clients and agencies.

Encouragingly, the outputs from our Performance Adaptathon included the beginnings of a pledge for a Joint Industry Performance Charter, which begins to set out both business performance and relationship principles.

The message from agencies to clients is: please aim to be a client of choice. Think about marketing funds as a key business-builder rather than a cost. Decide how much of a pioneer you want to be.

Build in measurement and KPIs at the outset. Be clear on the marketing outcomes you want and how they link to business performance. And invest in us, so we can invest in you.

There isn’t any doubt that advertisers believe in the power of advertising. Working at getting the most out of their agencies should be a no-brainer.

Paul Bainsfair is the director-general of the IPA

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