Prasad Sangameshwaran
Feb 20, 2017

Opinion: Humility scores the least in making a good client agency relationship

A sneak preview into the findings of the client-agency relationship study

Opinion: Humility scores the least in making a good client agency relationship
It’s said that love makes the world go round. But the complex relationship between clients and their agencies can make one go around in circles. 
When Campaign India embarked upon a study before St Valentine’s Day to understand what makes or breaks the relationship between agencies and clients, there was enthusiasm from all quarters. Every side agreed that it was a great initiative.
However, when it came to put paper to pen, or the fingers to the keyboard, most agencies and clients shied away, postponing their responses indefinitely. This was despite the fact that they had been given the cloak of anonymity. Finally, 26 respondents took part in the survey, a quarter of them being clients (all of them are CMOs).
When asked about the “elements that contributed most to making a relationship good” the surprise was not in the top elements, but at the bottom of the list. Humility, challenge and fair terms and conditions got the least amount of marks as the three things that would contribute most in a good relationship. We are not sure if that sends a signal that the opposite of these three (arrogance, lack of challenge and unfair terms and conditions) are acceptable in the relationship.
One of our guest opinions on this topic, “Beware of the client who does not order lunch…” got a lot of response, probably from the agency folk. It underlined the fact that like every other relationship, even here everyone had a laundry list of what they expect from their partners.
When we flipped that question and asked, “if you could do one thing for the other party, what would that be,” most agency personnel got the question wrong, probably signaling that they never take time out to read the brief, or interpret the question correctly.
Most answers ranged from “Grow us as much as you grow” to “host FIFA and football/cricket parties. Nothing brings people closer than alcohol and sports” or the lame “nothing much. We are doing all that we can”.
One client offered a positive solution. “I would emphasise that we should handle creative minds emotionally. They would die to do magic for you, but they are fragile,” is what he summed up.
And what do we do with all fragile things, including relationships? Handle with care.
(The author is the managing editor, Campaign India. He can be reached on 


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