Agencies are seriously jeopardising their client relationships by
spending too much time chasing new business, according to a new survey
commissioned by the Results Business Consultancy.
The cost of a split can be up to pounds 50 million in a year if client
and agency time are also taken into account.
David Miln, a senior consultant at the Results Business Consultancy,
told Campaign: ’The message is that clients need to do their homework
before appointing agencies and that agencies need to work harder at the
relationship. It is in the best interests of both to get it right.’
Miln even suggested setting up a counselling service along the lines of
Relate, which helps to repair foundering relationships.
Almost all relationships break down over a period of 12 months, the
survey found, during which time agencies often miss the chance to repair
the damage because they are unaware of the problems they face.
In the survey, conducted by the Harris Research Centre, some clients
admitted they wished they had found out more about an agency before
making a final appointment and some gave the impression that they
treated the pitch process almost as a game.
Miln added: ’Agencies need the sense of excitement generated by pitches
but they must also ask whether there is a better way of investing their
money and resources.’
Extending the marriage analogy, the report claims: ’If the husband
(client) is boring, this is something for agencies to address - they
should not run off and put the effort into playing the field.’
The survey is based on a sample of 45 clients - all of which appointed
new agencies within 18 months of the survey - interviewed by telephone
during November and December 1998. Only clients investing at least
pounds 1 million a year on marketing communications were included.
Mark Robinson, the marketing director of J. Walter Thompson, said: ’An
agency like ours has the resource and the space to go after new
It is more of a problem for small agencies that can be dominated by a
He added: ’There are also a number of immature clients around who don’t
understand the massive costs involved for an agency.’