McIntyre: Marketer peanuts and agency monkeys

Paul McIntyre
By Paul McIntyre | 26 July 2013
AdNews editor-in-chief Paul McIntyre.

Here’s a wild development that marketers and agencies should be delighted about. It’s a pity I can’t name names but a high-profile company which recently completed a review of its creative agency roster opted for the shop that refused to budge on a remuneration deal which a rival was pushing hard to do for $2-3 million less in annual fees. Not possible? Yes, it actually happened, although it’s true that some pitch consultants and procurement types would find the notion outrageous.

The aforementioned decision by Brand X to pay a truckload more for its creative firepower is a heartening sign – particularly when you know the sector it operates in. It took courage by the winning agency to stand firm but ultimately it makes sense. Value, impact and effectiveness does not equate to price. In fact, it still befuddles me that many credible marketers think that screwing agencies down on remuneration will deliver a better result. No wonder many marketing teams are so unhappy with their agency partnerships.

No question there are agencies that are below par and deserve a whack but it must eventually dawn on a few marketers with their accounts in play that there is a disconnect in the logic of a remuneration purge to create value. Even when some agency new business strategies are about how far and fast they can drop their pants, marketers must know by now you get what you pay for. Adland is people IP, not a manufacturing line, so putting agencies in the remuneration bunker will deliver substandard results. Or in the best case, occasionally good results but nothing sustainably superb.

There’s another agency appointment in the winds at present which is of equal interest. The company’s top brass – from the chief executive down – has told its new agency it wants to be known inside the agency as the “fun client”. That’s not so stupid, really, because the agency-savvy client knows it will actually get more from the top creatives, suits and strategy people.

Contrast these two reviews with another which has just been completed – and one probably more typical of where the market generally is at. One comment I got back from the review process of this very large, multi-brand review was that there were more procurement people in the pitch than marketers. That sounds like a Festival of Nincompoops. Okay, so it’s easy to whack procurement for its myopic prism on determining value – read price – but with the number of marketers genuinely frustrated with the level of service and output they get from their agency partners, someone should wake up to the blindingly original thought that you get what you pay for. Please, don’t bitch. Expect a monkey if you’re throwing peanuts.

This article first appeared in the 26 July 2013 edition of AdNews, in print and on iPad. Click here to subscribe for more news, features and opinion.

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