They had neither the specialists nor the expertise to counter the procurement arguments. That is, until somebody suggested fighting fire with fire.
By employing procurement specialists of their own, clients could be played at their own game.
Fine in theory, of course, but in practice it has been a different story.
Only Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO still employs a procurement manager. Tina Fegent, who has filled the role at Lowe London for the past year, is negotiating her departure (page 3). The predicted scenario in which all major agencies would have their own specialist has failed to materialise.
The reality is that while there may be a role for such people in agencies, it is unlikely to be a long-term one. Once the right systems are in place and the procurement specialists have passed on their expertise, their task is complete. After that, they can become an expensive luxury. How ironic is that?