EDITORIAL: Great creative alone will not stop account moves

The brief issued by the NSPCC to the agencies shortlisted for its business drips with innuendo.

The brief issued by the NSPCC to the agencies shortlisted for its

business drips with innuendo.

High levels of service, focused and relevant advertising and an account

team that is always willing and able are its key demands. The

implication is clear that all this was not necessarily forthcoming from

Saatchi & Saatchi.

Some of the most memorable and thought-provoking charity advertising

ever seen seems unlikely to save Saatchis and provides yet more evidence

that dazzling creative work will not safeguard an account by itself.

Sad to say that these situations are often preventable and easily


Problems are swept under the carpet because neither side wants an

embarrassing confrontation and a review seems the easiest way out.

Sometimes it can be sparked by a major clanger, such as a PR gaffe or a

bitter dispute between an agency and a commercials director. More often,

though, it is down to an accumulation of niggling annoyances - a bad

typo, campaigns that keep coming in slightly over budget or an account

director who can’t be reached on the phone.

The resulting ’statutory’ review fools nobody and, as the NSPCC may

find, the process will be hugely disruptive as the client severs one

agency relationship and takes time to bed in a new one.

A long-held industry maxim says that brilliant creative work will always

win an account while bad account handling is a surefire way of losing

it. Like most such received wisdom, it is partly true. Perceived poor

account handling can often be a symptom of an agency’s wider failure to

keep up with changes of direction taking place within a client


In their sometimes mistaken belief that they are a brand’s custodian

rather than its caretaker, agencies may misread an incoming marketer’s

agenda for change and undermine its tenure of the business with

over-long arguments about why change should not take place. It is bad

service in its most fundamental form.

Whether or not this happened with NSPCC and Saatchis, only the

protagonists know. But the charity should be wary of throwing over a

fine advertising heritage if some blunt speaking could sort out the


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