I’ve worked on both sides of the client-agency fence and have seen the power of deeply collaborative relationships between brands and their creative partners. Mutual respect and trust leads to the most engaging work.
I’ve also seen what happens when vendors are treated too much like, well, vendors. Creative services are sometimes negotiated by the same procurement groups that source soybeans or corrugate cardboard. It can lead to the lowest common denominator and can take the wind out of the sails of any creative relationship.
In the last few years, many big brands have started increasing payment terms to 90 or even 120 days to suppliers. There was a piece last week in the New York Times that talked about how these practices are turning “suppliers into lenders.”
I think sooner or later, there’s a cost to the client-agency ecosystem of squeezing creative partners. Treating an agency like a commodity will lead to commodity results. In a world with shrinking consumer attention spans, the bar has never been higher to deliver exceptional work that cuts through. Exceptional work requires an exceptional collaborative partnership.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to build client-agency relationships.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed cartoon print. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)
Here’s a cartoon I drew on this topic in 2009.