Why big agencies don’t always know best
The argument that brands should stick with their existing agencies because they know them best is utter tosh says Eaon Pritchard, in a piece that first appeared in Encore.
For an agency to claim that they deserve to hold on to an account because they are the only agency to really ‘understand the brand’ is just about the best case I’ve heard for them to be fired. Immediately.
One of the conundrums you face when switching from big agency to small agency is the realisation that the business development boot has landed squarely on the other foot. And it doesn’t fit so well.
In my big agency days, I quite happily trotted out the following statement to clients whose account was with said big agency but whose heads were occasionally being turned by the advances of smaller boutique or specialist agencies.
“We (big agency) understand the brand. Why would you (the client) risk handing over any part of the marketing to a small boutique or specialist agency? They don’t get the brand.”
The reality of this statement, looking at it now from the challenger viewpoint rather than the incumbent viewpoint, is that it is utter tosh.
If the brand manager and the big agency are the only parties who ‘get’ the brand, who ‘understand’ the brand, then clearly they have not been doing their jobs properly.
If they had been doing it properly then everyone should understand the brand.
Everyone should be clear on the values, meaning, purpose, image and voice of the brand.
If they – the brand manager and the incumbent agency – have been doing their jobs properly then there can be no doubt about what the brand idea is, so the door would therefore open for any agency to have a valid point of view on how the values, meaning, purpose, image and communications should best be expressed. In any case, the real question should be, “which agency best understands the buyers?”
Eaon Pritchard is the head of strategy at Sputnik.
This story first appeared in Encore. Download it now on iPad, iPhone and Android tablet devices.