This week’s leader gives what might be misinterpreted as a typical
Campaign-biased view of adland, where the ’poor’ agency carries the can
for the client’s problems. But for every Nationwide, there are a
worrying number of stories revealing that some agencies - despite all
the talk of wanting to be clients’ business partners, belt-tightened
times and new, open working methods - are still living in cloud-cuckoo
land when it comes to understanding their clients’ concerns. It’s a
world in which pretty pictures and yellow pencils are the order of the
day, and bullshit abounds because the end always justifies the means. It
drives clients to distraction and eventually to seek alternatives to big
Two tales from the past week illustrate the point. Believe us, there are
more. The first is a quote from last week’s Campaign: ’We shot the ads
in California using local props and American stylists to achieve a look
that could not be done over here. The colours, design and typography are
all very Californian.’ Please. If a stylist in Soho had sprinkled
raisins and pine-nuts over a lump of brie on a Pier Imports plate
against a pink background, adding the type on a Mac, what would have
Maybe that’s why I’m not an art director. And perhaps my aversion to the
line ’sprinkle the wrinkles’ explains why I’m not a copywriter.
Tale two is more worrying. A major multinational household name’s client
team sells frivolous products, largely aimed at young women. It pays the
London office of a major multinational agency network pounds 47,000 a
month in fees since its international realignment. What might this
client expect from its investment? Possibly not the five successive
campaigns it’s had to turn down because the agency keeps presenting
Harrods when the brief is high street. Certainly not to have its
requests to meet the creatives who will work on the business refused.
Definitely not to have the account director turn her back on the
’humble’ brand manager (with ten years’ experience) in meetings.
The agency’s boss has already been summoned to meet the client to
resolve the situation. He didn’t help matters by oozing insincerity and
avoiding the issues. The client wants to move but is tied by the
international alignment. Almost certainly, things will get worse as
pressure mounts to get some work out. One day the client will probably
snap, appoint a small local shop and ask MindShare or similar to sort
We’re often asked why the likes of Rainey Kelly, St Luke’s and Mother
are doing so well. There are several answers available, including that
they behave as though they actually want the business.
But the one obvious trait they share is that they treat their clients
with a respect which is then reciprocated.