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Making a ‘marriage’ work

The relationship between marketers and advertising agencies has always walked a fine line between brilliance and chaos and is littered with stories of success and failure.

Stand-offs over fee negotiations, creative differences, mergers and acquisitions and now, more than ever, global alignments have agencies frustrated and clients unhappy with their advertising brethren. Until recently I had little idea the relationship between clients and agencies had deteriorated to where an entire industry is emerging to iron out the problems both face on a daily basis.

Yes, the marketing industry’s version of marriage counselling has arrived and business is booming. These consultants are hired to work on areas such as procurement, resource allocation, agency selection and relationship management. And it’s the last point which is worryingly the fastest growing.

You only have to look at the pitch process to see how ridiculous the entire system has become. Stories of 30 or more agencies being invited to pitch for business reeks of poor research on the type of agencies marketers want for their brands. But both clients and agencies must shoulder some of the blame.

While creative agencies bemoan a lack of understanding about the importance of creativity, clients say agencies simply don’t know their business or attempt to understand their work culture.

I think a large part of this problem boils down to nothing more than a communication breakdown, which can end up destroying something that has the potential to be great.

Many refer to it as the seven-year itch, or an idea relationships need to be renewed just for the sake of it. Others argue staying the course is a more viable option. Good relationships and open communication often lead to better quality work.

Using your agency partnership as an extension of the marketing department might sound cliché, but for the most part, it works well.

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