Raahil Chopra
Sep 29, 2014

Spikes Asia 2014: “Start saying no to clients” - Ted Royer, Droga5

The chief creative officer compared the agency-client relationship to dating

Spikes Asia 2014: “Start saying no to clients” - Ted Royer, Droga5
Ted Royer, CCO, Droga5 kicked off proceedings on the fourth and final day of Spikes Asia 2014 with a talk titled ‘It’s Complicated’.
'Complicated' is what he described some relationships between agencies and clients as, drawing comparison to a young couple living together. When it stops 'working out' after the wooing-and-winning-over process, he quipped, "The girl told him, 'You stay with me, but I'll date four other guys for two months and then decide what to do'."
He further added, “We won’t want the guy to do that. But, we’re doing something very similar in advertising and we’re doing it all the time.”
The speaker underlined the value of long term relationships in advertising, with a couple of examples.
“Think of the W+K-Nike relationship. They’ve been together for 30 years. We love it and we’re cheering them on to do some more incredible work and be together. There are rumours about something going wrong in the TBWA\-Adidas business. I hope they’re incorrect, because we want that relationship to keep going on too,” he added.
He compared different stages of relationships to agency-client relationships.
“The period after winning the account is probably the honeymoon period. When a client ties up with an agency on a 'project' basis, it’s probably the equivalent of ‘I want to sleep with you, but not date you'. Pitching is like the first date. Everyone is on their best behaviour (and never actually behave like that ever again),” he said.
A Google search on the term ‘relationship’ led Royer to the following characteristics that symbolise successful relationships: ‘Honesty’, ‘Communication’, ‘Shared Goals’, ‘Fidelity’, ‘Admitting you are wrong’, ‘Celebrating Accomplishments together’, ‘Surprising one Another’, ‘Treating each one like equal’.
Shared Goals
He cited an example of how the agency set up a joint manifesto with client Newcastle Brown Ale, which set the tone for all the work.


He said, “I’m surprised how often communication breaks down between the agency and the client. I can’t get the decision-maker most of the times. But, for Under Armour I’ve got direct access to Kevin (Plank) who runs the company. Under Armour wanted to use Gisele Bündchen as an ambassador. We thought the association will show disruption as people would have various points-of-views on that. So, we played the campaign on those lines.”

“We have Honey Maid Graham Crackers as a client. It’s not the most exciting product in the world. Sales for the product have been steady. We’d done two pretty okay films, following which the client threatened to break up with us. We needed to do something better. We did, and came back with a proper campaign. We stood for true wholesomeness,” he explained.

Sales went up by eight per cent, according to the speaker: "We took a big huge brand and made it stand for something big.”
Asked what smaller agencies could do to prevent getting bullied by big clients, Royer said, “Start saying no to some work (clients). When I joined the agency we were a very small team, but we still had some cockiness about us. If we keep saying 'yes', and 'yes we’ll do it for cheaper', we will be taken for a ride.”
Campaign India

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