Agencies fear long-term client relationships are at risk of 'extinction'

Creativebrief survey shows majority of agencies think long-term creative partnerships between brands and agencies are under threat, but only 38% of brands agree.

Creativebrief: both agencies and brands ranked 'trust' as most crucial to thriving relationships
Creativebrief: both agencies and brands ranked 'trust' as most crucial to thriving relationships

Agency bosses feel they are getting the "raw end of the deal" when it comes to client/agency relationships and fear long-term creative partnerships are at risk of becoming "extinct", research by Creativebrief has warned.

The survey asked 50 brand chief marketing officers and 50 agency chief executives whether long-term brand/agency relationships based on "trust and mutual business growth" were in danger of becoming extinct. Creativebrief said it launched the research amid a "strained... tough and changing landscape for both parties".

Creativebrief's results indicate that agencies and brands are not on the same page when it comes to the future health of relationships. Sixty-five per cent of agency CEOs said they feared such relationships were under threat compared with 38% of CMOs.

The survey also asked participants to rank the most important conditions that lead to thriving brand/agency partnerships. Both agencies and brands agreed that "trust" was top, while "openness", "transparency" and "shared goals" also scored highly on both sides.

However, 14% of agencies ranked "respect" highly, while only 2% of brands did. Creativebrief said this was "evidence of how much of a given respect is for brands who receive it from agencies unconditionally, but how starved of respect agencies can often feel in today’s market".

Neither agencies nor brands ranked "talent" highly, at just 2% and 1.6% respectively – something that Creativebrief said could explain why the industry is facing a "talent crisis".

Perception of industry's 'strongest' brand/agency partnerships

Respondents were also asked to name which brand/agency partnership they considered to be the strongest. 

John Lewis Partnership/Adam & Eve/DDB was ranked top by brands, while agencies placed Nike/Wieden & Kennedy and Audi/Bartle Bogle Hegarty in joint top spot.

Creativebrief CEO Charlie Carpenter said he hoped the results of the study would "open dialogue" and help to bring some "positive movement for change in the new decade ahead".

He added: "It’s clear from this study that healthy partnerships between brands and agencies are under threat on a macro level – all too often, there is one party in the relationship who feels they are getting the raw end of the deal.

"But it’s not beyond the realms of solving. We believe that brands and agencies need to double down, work harder than ever at talking through their issues and look forward to set the right conditions for thriving, modern creative partnerships."

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