Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: A couple of challenges. The first one is, how can we move away from the ferocious price competition that exists in the Industry? I would venture to say the driving factor in winning most pitches is the price. I know of Agencies that are willing to charge a zero percent commission. And I know of many Agencies that are willing to take a loss on the account just as long as the win the business. From where I sit, the only thing we are doing is changing the way our Clients look at us. We are making them believe we are media wholesalers.
The second challenge is how to get a seat at the strategy table. Many Clients continue to think of Media as the final step in the process. This is a hangover from the full service Agency days when it was. But that was twenty years ago, people! It does not help that the Ad Agency continues to believe that they are the Client’s strategic adviser and take every opportunity they can to push us out of the picture.
Q: How is your relationship with the Advertising Agency?
A: That depends. When the Client is present we all behave and promise to play nicely. When the Client is not there, all hell breaks loose. We want to be involved in upstream strategy and Idea development and they don’t want us there.
Q: How can you solve this problem?
A: It’s not easy. The first thing I have to do is change the mindset of my own team. It drives me crazy to hear them refer to the Ad agency as the “Creative” agency. So what does that make us? The “Logical” agency? Names have power. Do you remember when you were in high school and you went to a party. There was always a “pretty” girl and a “smart” girl. And once you labeled them it was almost impossible to think that the “pretty” girl was smart or that the “smart” girl could be pretty? A Media Agency can be logical and creative but first we have to believe it ourselves.
The second thing I have to do is to train my people to think strategically and creatively. We have to be comfortable in the world of data and also in the world of insight. We need to be able to plan, execute and administer but we also need to ideate. Once we do this we will be on the verge of re-creating the full service Agency and our Clients are dying to have this.
Q: Why do you believe this?
A: For our Clients (and for us), it is a nightmare to have four different Agencies sitting together but working individually to solve his problem. There are too many egos, silos and profit centers involved. Every Agency tries to grandstand and get noticed by the Client and this is counterproductive. However, it is obvious that Brands benefit from holistic thinking and from solutions where all the different pieces work to build a coherent Brand.
Q: Thank you very much for your time.
A: Thank you.