Thursday, November 6, 2008
This will be relatively short and poorly typed.
(Maybe I'll develop a whole new style of writing -- sort of like how Lowell George became a great slide guitar player after he was forced to do so when he cut the tendons on his left hand and could no longer curl his fingers around the neck. That's also why Dr. John switched from guitar to piano. Right. Me, Dr. John and Lowell George.)
Anyway, how often do you hear about a client who is unhappy with their agency because the agency folk don't show enough initiative, don't suggest enough projects or come forth with enough unsolicited new ideas? That often seems to dwell near the top of a client's Things I Hate About My Agency list.
I'm of two minds about it. On one hand, I usually start to salivate a bit when I hear this, because we're good at initiative and pushing ideas, and that usually spells an opening for us.
But on the other hand, I have to wonder if the Other Agency is getting paid for all that desired original thinking. Or are they expected to throw a lot of what amounts to spec work for a current client up on the wall in hopes of making something on the production if the client buys into it? (But walking away empty-handed having invested time and resources in the Thinking It Up if they don't.)
I've said it before (and even offered to fight about it, I think -- and I'm a terrible fighter) and I'll say it again. Agencies do not and should not depend on production for their income. We should not be expected to give away what we have to offer that is of most value - our thinking and our ideas - for a production paycheck.
Want lots of ideas and thinking from your agency? Pay for it. Maybe pay a reasonable monthly fee and expect the flow of ideas to stay open. If the ideas you get continue to suck, something is wrong. Fix it or fire the agency.
An agency should be in the business of ideas - generating them as well as executing them. They should get paid for all of it.