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Agencies – what one client really thinks of you

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Last night I went along to the Revolution Awards, celebrating all things digital. And I ended up chatting to one of Britain’s top marketers. I won’t divulge his name, but it’s safe to say he’s the man behind some of the best-known ads in the UK of the past few years and has a pretty formidable track record across the industry.

So naturally, I decided to probe him a bit for what he really thinks about the agencies that he’s worked with. And after a few glasses of wine, he was more than forthcoming. In no particular order:

1. The best you can hope for from an agency is a couple of good ideas a year. Often you won’t even get that. And he’s talking about some of the best agencies in London when he says that – BBH and Dare are two he mentioned.

2. BBH are ‘difficult to work with’, but obviously get results.

3. He really didn’t think much of Rapp – ‘you’ll be waiting a long time to get a good idea out of them’. They are ‘just a machine’.

3. Ogilvy are another agency he thinks are all mouth and no trousers. And they should never have moved to Canary Wharf.

4. JWT are now a very weak agency in his opinion. In fact, he questioned WPP’s takeover strategy, saying it seems to have created big, bland networks.

5. One of his biggest complaints was the sheer lack of talent within agencies. There are normally only a handful of people in an agency he’d actually want to work with. That’s a common complaint, and the reason agencies are such brittle businesses – a couple of important people moves and they can be in real trouble.

6. Media agencies could have cornered the digital space (a couple of Revolution Awards actually went to media shops). But they’re not smart enough to see the opportunity.

Pretty damning stuff, really.


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Written by davidtiltman

April 9, 2010 at 7:21 am

6 Responses

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by DavidTiltman, Lucy Barrett. Lucy Barrett said: Agencies – what one client really thinks of you « A media journo writes… http://wp.me/pOaGm-1u […]

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by davidtiltman: Agencies – what one client really thinks of you: http://wp.me/pOaGm-1u

  3. Talent is the route cause of poor performance in any business. People of all generations not just the 20 somethings are questioning what we/they are doing as an industry. I saw the brain drain happening in banking when I worked there, and I see it in advertising and communications now.

    When all you have to get you out of bed in the morning is the relentless pursuit of driving consumption and dealing with the superfluous then those with ideas and balls will leave and do something better and different.

    I loved this post.

    Justin Basini
    http://www.basini.com
    http://www.blog.basini.com

    Justin Basini

    April 9, 2010 at 8:46 am

  4. The reality is in the majority of cases, clients buy individuals – not agencies – and where that isn’t the case, it tends to be the agencies that are highly recognised and regarded for their approach rather than flogging proprietary tools [that the only thing ‘unique’ about them is their name] a network [where their role is ‘process driven’ rather than added value] and/or skills that they think makes them more ‘business relevant’ – when in reality it just highlights how business irrelevant they really are.

    Great post … sad, but great.

    Robert

    April 11, 2010 at 9:59 am

  5. […] tray. Given that marketers generally don't have a high opinion of their agencies (see David Tiltman's excellent blog for some revelations gleaned from a marketing director at last week's Revolution awards), some […]

  6. […] away), so I’ve not had chance to update this blog after the pretty astonishing traffic surge my last post […]


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