It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Client knows his business better than the agency ever will. This is one of the main reasons [alongside cost and velocity] for the major shift to in - house agencies. Further, there is much less miscommunication and fewer approvals needed along the way because client brand management and the in - house agency teams are working shoulder to shoulder from beginning to end.
In the cases of big data analysis, media planning and buying, digital and research there can be little argument that, all things equal, better work is done by the external and internal agencies working together. However, this doesn’t necessarily apply to the creative work, as many would argue that when it comes to cracking the big idea for the campaign and then creating and producing the work “best alone” may be much better. But given that creative is far and away the most exciting and glamorous part of advertising, there will be a shift to “better together”. And it will in all likelihood not result in less effective work.
This is because creative talent will move to client side where there’s more job security, you don’t work like a dog, you make more money and ageism doesn’t play against you nearly as much. Sure, you get to only work on one piece of business but how many creative people work on multiple accounts in the big agencies today anyway?
There are two parts to a Creative Agency’s product: Communications Strategy and Creative work. The in - built assumption is that the better the comms strategy, the better the work. Now I’m a big defender of this. After all Planning has been my life’s work. But let me stand back and play devils’ advocate. Client brand management spend days, weeks even, researching, torturing and carefully writing their brief. Then they make an occasion out of briefing the agency.
What cheek, after all this fuss, for an agency to go back with a revised creative brief. Hardly the stuff that makes friends and influences people. Further, in a lot of cases, the boxes have just been renamed and reorganized. In both client and agency briefs the problem, target market, key value proposition and reasons to believe will be included. Client will accompany his brief with a good marketplace background and sometimes relevant insights from the brand strategy. What’s to add? Maybe the desired voice and tone of the campaign. But creative hate that. They don’t want to be boxed in. So, planners will focus on finding an insight and creating a platform from which creative can hopefully fly. This takes time.
More time will be eaten up if the agency brief is reviewed with client it who might be negatively predisposed [ego] and kick it back for “corrections”. But in many cases, because it’s embarrassing, the agency’s brief isn’t reviewed by the client! Rather, it will be briefed into creative who in many cases are the best strategists in the agency. Whatever. Creatives are in a pickle. Whose brief should they follow, the agency’s or the client’s?
Standing back and looking at this laborious process it seems outdated and that better together is the way to go. That is, client hands over homework, even their brief to the agency. Agency planners immerse themselves, sort out the information and think. Then the two come together to workshop, thrash out and lock down on the brief. That way ownership is secured. That’s better together.
Finally, what exactly does “better together” mean? It means always remembering that advertising is a team sport. Talent is on everybody’s lips and sure talent wins games. But teamwork wins championships.
PS: The guy playing COX is the CMO of course.