Marketers and agencies: Come together, right now

A marketer told me, not long ago, that he had fired his advertising agency after the last two ads it had made for the brand were named and shamed as Campaign Turkeys of the Week.

It wasn’t true. I double-checked because, obviously, I rather liked the idea that we might wield influence, while, of course, being appalled by the absurd suggestion that Turkey of the Week is any criterion on which to base such a major decision. You need a few more bullets in your barrel than that.

Still, the ad was indeed a big fat embarrassing turkey and the marketer had indeed fired his creative agency. But the thing is, if an agency makes a real stinker of an ad, there’s usually a marketer who shares the blame. Or should share the blame. The marketer crowing to me about firing his agency was quite likely every bit as culpable for his advertising’s failure as the creative agency that made it. Smart marketers take a Turkey, work out with their agency what went wrong, and work with their agency to get it more right next time. A smart CEO, whose marketing chief keeps buying dud creative work, fires the marketing chief.

On the flip, of course, behind most great work is a bold, brave, savvy marketer who’s carefully picked their agency partners and treats them with respect. And every agency that crows about receiving a Pick of the Week usually shares the glory with a brilliant marketer. Or should share the glory.

All of this matters because Campaign now aims to be the place for information, debate and inspiration not just for creative and media agencies but also for clever marketers. A very wise person asked me last week how we could bring together two sides of the client/agency divide when so much separates them. How can we support marketers when their companies pursue commoditised procurement decisions? How can we support marketers when they accuse their media agencies of cheating them? 

These are good questions but the right answer is that the best agencies and the best clients have solid shared ambitions and always have. The best marketers remunerate their agencies fairly, monitor their media spend thoroughly but respectfully and work as partners with their agencies to develop the most effective, creative work. And marketers that don’t do this will be called out here as they always have been. Just as agencies that fail to deliver will also be called out here as they always have been. 

To mark this new Campaign, our reigning Agency of the Year, Adam & Eve/DDB, has created an ad campaign based on the excellence that is born out of true collaboration between our industry’s smartest people. The prettiest babies have the most handsome parents and turkeys breed Turkeys.      

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