Whole lot of bitchin’ going on

How listening to what’s wrong can make us better

I spent a good part of two days this week asking agency people, marketers and media owners what were their pain points were when it came to working during this COVID pandemic.

Agencies, in this context refers to brand, media and/or digital agencies.

After WhatsApping and talking to some 20 people, I realised they were being very polite with their responses; most certainly not the sort of content you readers will read let alone relish. But when I told them I will not publish their names and keep my sources anonymous, it unleashed a torrent of brickbats as they started to really belasah me on their gripes.

“Many of my peers in the industry agree with this: agency people like to bullshit a lot.”

Now, if I published them all verbatim I won’t have enough pages to cover all the complaints. For the sake of decency, I have paraphrased some of the responses in an anecdotal manner and neatly arranged them under separate headings. You may find a complaint you can relate to (hopefully, not personally). And if so, there may be hope that this article will get you thinking about how we work together.

All responses have been edited for brevity, clarity and unprintable language.

Marketers bitching about Agencies: 

“Agencies are still stuck in the old ways of working. But they love to pretend that they are progressive and future-proof and all that.”

“I am shown all these amazing creative awards they have won, but I always wonder why they have never won any with my brand.”

“Agencies think money grows on trees.”

“Agency people have fancy job titles to their names but they don’t measure up to the status. For example, can someone tell me how am I supposed to talk to a Global Head of Business?”

“Some agencies love to bring their whole company when they come for meetings. Maybe they don’t have enough people on staff.”

“Many of my peers in the industry agree with this: agency people like to bullshit a lot.”

“If agencies can leave their egos at their office or home, life can be more pleasant.”

“Agencies forget who is paying their bills.”

“Digital agencies think they are God’s gift to the world. Just because you look nerdy, are young, have an attitude, a bald head with microscopic earrings does not mean you are smart. Grow up!”

“Clients think they are God. And yet they complain we have egos!”

Agencies bitching about Marketers: 

“I don’t think my client has ever studied Marketing as a subject. Most of his thinking is bases on sales work. He can’t even write a decent report.”

This was repeated many many times: “Clients think they are God. And yet they complain we have egos!”

“I deal with marketing people who are at entry level in their jobs and this is frustrating and insulting.”

“It is tiring educating marketers on how to do their work. They do not have a growth learning mindset and like to stay in their comfort zones. In fact, they think they do not need to learn (God-complex issue again).”

“There are very few clients who are respectful towards agencies. I’ll settle for decency and common courtesy at least.”

“Media owners should be more thankful to us.”

“Some days, I feel that all the client’s problems belong to the agency! We are not just a bouncing board but a punching bag.”

“Clients expect us to pay for the bills when we meet socially. I am a young agency person, and I find this presumption on their part disgusting.”

“Clients hammer us for not being digital enough, and yet their own ecosystems are dated.”

Marketers kill ideas by overthinking stuff. They are a boring lot really!”

Agencies bitching about Media Owners: 

“Media owners keep doing the same things and expect different outcomes. They don’t think outside the box.”

“They always dodge data, even when the truth is staring in their face.”

 “Media owners always think we are here to rob them of revenue. They don’t say it, but they’d rather deal direct with clients.”

“Agencies love to tell us how to do our jobs. I suppose they get that from their clients. Or it is their superior complex mentality, or their clothes look better.”

“I don’t know how to evaluate the efficacy of media platforms and most media owners are shifty about their numbers. Like we are here to rob them of their livelihoods.”

“Media owners do not give us enough stuff that we can use in our sales pitch to clients. They don’t understand that we are in the solutions business.”

“Most media owners think that their job is over once they have given us their rate card.”

“Digital media owners think their business paths are paved with gold.”

“Media owners should be more thankful to us.”

Media Owners bitching about Agencies: 

“Agencies always expect us to cover for their revenue shortfalls and mistakes with clients. We actually pay the salaries of agency people.”

“Agencies assume all media owners are happy to give 50% discounts!”

“We are always the last to get paid on the food chain, by agencies. And not after they have discounted our invoice for the umpteenth time.”

“Agencies treat their suppliers in a condescending manner. Their clients treat us better. Respect begets respect.”

“Agencies love to tell us how to do our jobs. I suppose they get that from their clients. Or it is their superior complex mentality, or their clothes look better.”

“Agencies do not appreciate the amount of money and resources we invest in becoming media owners. They just brush off our existence as something they have to handle because the clients want them to.”

“Agencies take forever, sometimes years, to pay us. Even though their clients have already paid them.”

“Agencies always oversell and underprice us to clients, then they backpedal to us expecting us to fulfill their empty promises. They are forever terrified of their clients.”

This says it all: “I better stop saying anything more, for fear of being punished by agencies. They can act like gangsters sometimes.”

Production Houses bitching about Agencies: 

“Agencies want us to do their creative work for them, present to their clients for them, sell the final work to them and then they delay our payment for a year, at least!”

Agencies think they have superior creative input compared to us, but  most times this is not true. And their clients can see that.”

“Many agencies take the credit for work that was actually done by us.”

“If you are a lazy agency working with a good production house, you can become famous very fast. And confuse the marketplace about  your own credibility.”

“We are always the last to get paid on the food chain, by agencies. And not after they have discounted our invoice for the umpteenth time.”

Ed’s Note: Phew, this is tiring. OK children, can we get back to work….?

(Photo Credit: 123RF)


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