There is no greater joy to a client than when a customer responds to his ads — and buys the product. So simple, yet conventional wisdom has it that sales are dependent on quality, price, distribution and need for the product in the customer’s life. Advertising comes in after all these are in the correct order; neatly excluding the impact of the ads, or lack of it.
Sounds to me the very reason why advertising practitioners are not taken seriously and also the reason why advertising ideas are killed routinely. It is fashionable to moan and bitch that clients take malicious joy in killing ads. What is not in fashion is to understand how to market the idea to clients.
Let me put it this way. Advertising’s job is to ensure that the TG changes an attitude or behavior towards something. If the agency has a problem in changing the client’s behavior towards their idea then it will be a bigger problem to have their ads change the customer’s behavior
The client is no fool. Having invested a ton of money on production, on packaging, on distribution etc. it is in his best interest to ensure that advertising expenditure, whatever it is, produces the best results.
The constant tussle between the agency and the client on the subject of judging ideas is based on the ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ formula. Forgive the clichйs and/or archetypes. Which self respecting client is going to be shorn quietly?
Clients fight to exist daily. Their livelihood depends whether or not customers buy. Clients learn to survive by molding the marketing mix in the most desirous proportions; why not their advertising consultant/agent? Just as customers kill products by not buying them; clients kill by not approving.
Killing brings other ideas; maybe better ones. And all clients are not barbarians, some kill bad ideas with kindness; some by firing the agency; some by not paying; yet others ask for more.
Here is a looking glass for agencies:
• Because of ‘unplanning’, a very large volume of work gets done in an agency. Like at the tailors, the client’s work actually gets done the night before the presentation. The atmosphere is moist and sweaty with fear and tension...in this environment, output will appear rumpled and so will the approval.
• To ‘impress’ clients, agencies bring a senior body to the presentation. This august person rarely knows anything more than the client’s name because he is involved in his own affairs of state. If the client is a sharpshooter, the senior agency person leads the conga line off the cliff face.
• Every agency will have ‘research’ done to show its ‘proactiveness’ notwithstanding the fact that the client’s already commissioned one. The junior most in the research department does the job; ‘groups’ are made up of near/dear ones and the moderator has a specific task in mind – to get the group to utter stuff which backs up the creative line already written at the agency..
• Then the ponderous recitation of the client’s brief in Agency English. In about one and a half minutes the client is in deep hypnosis; having written the same stuff in Punjabish a few days ago. Agency’s reason - “to make the client understand that we have understood the brief”. Deep stuff!
• In the big ‘campaign’ pitch, siege is laid by thousands from the agency. His regal honor, the Most High, the Grand something of the other World/Region/India and the guys who fiddle the wires and put off the lights. Client breathless (for space). Finance Director will assess and observe that the agency has too many people on board and thus very expensive. Pffft!
• The greatest tragedy is the disrespect to the target consumer. Definitions vary wildly because Creative speaks about their relationship with flesh and blood; Media have customers sewn up in stats; Client service tilts from side to side. Agency personnel are far too busy chasing payments and prospects to really study customers. Busy leafing through ‘One Show’, ‘Lurzers’s Archive’ or some such…or in front of their Macs downloading visual references. Everything but getting real and mixing their sweat with
The perceptive reader must have figured out by now that the divide between the agency and the client is alive and well. Agency insiders will continue to howl about the manner in which clients wield knives; and clients will continue to sharpen theirs.
And read all about it later in Campaign India.