WHY CLIENTS SHOULD TREAT THEIR AGENCIES AS PARTNERS, NOT VENDORS: THE MAGIC OF COLLABORATION

By The Malketeer

Collaboration is the key to success. Nowhere is this truer than in the relationship between clients and agencies. Instead of adopting a confrontational approach, clients stand to gain more by treating agencies as their partners rather than mere vendors.

This shift in mindset not only fosters a more productive working environment but also unleashes the full potential of creative and strategic capabilities.

Let’s look at how some clients thrived by cultivating a formidable collaborative engagement with their agencies based on trust and respect, and creating iconic global marketing campaigns.

Clear Communication and Shared Goals

Open, transparent communication is the foundation of any successful partnership. Clients who take the time to clearly articulate their goals and expectations set the stage for agencies to deliver optimal results.

For example, the collaboration between Nike and its advertising agency, Wieden+Kennedy, has been a testament to shared vision and communication. By aligning on core objectives, they’ve consistently produced groundbreaking campaigns that resonate with audiences worldwide.

Trust and Autonomy

Clients who trust their agencies and provide them with a degree of autonomy often witness outstanding results. When Unilever trusted Ogilvy & Mather with the Dove Real Beauty campaign, the agency was able to create a revolutionary marketing approach that challenged traditional beauty standards.

This trust allowed the agency to explore bold and unconventional ideas, leading to a highly successful and impactful campaign.

Investing in Relationships

Long-term success is built on relationships. Clients who invest time in getting to know their agency partners on a personal level foster a deeper connection and understanding. Procter & Gamble‘s longstanding partnership with Saatchi & Saatchi is a prime example.

The commitment to building a strong relationship has led to decades of successful collaboration and innovative marketing campaigns.

Feedback as a Two-Way Street

Feedback is crucial, but it should be a two-way street. Clients who are open to receiving feedback from their agencies create an environment where creativity flourishes.

The partnership between Apple and TBWA\Chiat\Day is a stellar example. By valuing the input from their agency, Apple has consistently produced groundbreaking advertising campaigns that resonate with their audience.

Fair Compensation and Timely Payments

Fair compensation demonstrates respect for the agency’s expertise and contributes to a healthier working relationship. Timely payments, too, play a crucial role in maintaining a positive partnership.

Brands like Coca-Cola, known for fair compensation and timely payments, have enjoyed fruitful collaborations with agencies like McCann Erickson over the years.

Recognition and Celebration of Success

Acknowledging and celebrating successes, both big and small, is essential. Clients who recognise the hard work and achievements of their agency partners contribute to a positive and motivating work environment. The partnership between Google and 72andSunny has flourished due to a shared commitment to celebrating successful campaigns and innovations.

Looking in the Malaysian context, my personal experiences in working with various clients who treated us as collaborative partners yielded far more successful marketing campaigns.

These clients were able to extract the maximum from their agency as opposed to a clinical client-vendor relationship.

The paradigm shift from viewing agencies as vendors to considering them as strategic partners is a game-changer. Clients who invest in building collaborative, respectful relationships with their agencies not only unlock the full potential of creative and strategic capabilities but also set the stage for enduring success in the competitive business landscape.

It’s time to move away from bullying tactics and embrace a partnership mindset for a future of innovation and growth.


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The APPIES is an annual event that presents a rare opportunity for creative, media, digital and marketing agencies or brands to present their best campaigns to the industry.

This is the only event where Live Presentations meets Live Judging.

Similar to TED Talks, The APPIES is the chance for great presenters with outstanding work to show it off to some of the industry’s most important industry leaders.

This year’s winners will receive Gold, Silver or Bronze trophies for 21 categories, and 6 special Best of Best categories (red trophies) that require no submissions!

Campaign entries must have run between June 2023 to May 2024

Submissions Deadline
30th June 2024

APPIES Festival – Judging & Presentations
11th – 12th July 2024 (Malaysia)

 

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