And so the London Olympics continue to be dogged by controversy. On Monday it was empty seats that got people’s backs up (and soldiers' bums down) while today it is dodgy Badminton players trying to lose matches in order to navigate their way to a gold medal by way of easier matches in later rounds.
Trying to manipulate matches in order to win a medal is not exactly in the true Olympic spirit of the games and they had clearly become so focused on their overall goal – getting a Gold medal around their necks – that the manner in which they went about achieving that gold got lost along the way.
It’s the same in business. Often over the last 15 years I have heard of many agency bosses doing things that are not in the true spirit of ‘the game’ simply to get their business ahead of a rival.
We read often in the pages of The Drum about unscrupulous agency owners who go into administration on a Friday only to re-open on Monday with little more than a new name and an empty creditors list. That said, there are some agency owners forced into this situation – one of whom I met last week in Manchester. He had absolutely no other way to turn other than to do a ‘pre-pack’, so while people are often very quick to judge these situations most deserve more scrutiny before the agency owners is totally lambasted.
However, I digress. A few weeks ago I was with the MD of a member agency in Edinburgh, let’s call him Ted. Ted told me of a rival agency MD, let’s called him Mr X of Agency Y, who had telephoned one of Ted’s retail clients, let’s call them Client S, to (kindly) tell them something about a rival, let’s call that rival company Client T. The conversation went something like this:
Client S: Hello, Client S speaking.
Agency X: Hello Client S, you don’t know me, but my name is Mr X of Agency Y. I know you are currently working with Ted, but I wondered if you were aware that Ted has been speaking to Client T and I think that they met up for a coffee earlier this week to talk about the possibility of working together.
Client S: (suspiciously) Hmmm, I didn’t know that.
Agency X: Well, I just wanted to let you know and to also to let you know that we have some experience in your sector and so if perhaps there was an opportunity to come in and speak to you at some point in the future then we’d be more than happy to do so….
Client S: Well, for your information, I’ve worked with Ted for many years now and consider our relationship solid and I am sure that Ted would do nothing to jeopardise that or do anything to undo the good work he has done for us over many years. Goodbye.
Obviously that’s not verbatim, but the response that Mr X no doubt wanted from Client S was more along the lines of: “Ted’s a rotten bastard, he’s fired. Can you be in my office in an hour as I have a project I need you to help me with.”
So, what’s this got to do with dodgy Olympics badminton players I hear you ask? Well, often agency owners do daft and short sighted things simply because they are so focused on the end goal, especially when it comes to new business.
Think about it. Ted told me the story and I’d guess Ted will tell lots of other people in the industry. I’d imagine Ted will not be so kind as to disguise the real name of Agency X either. Client S will also no doubt tell other people (i.e. other potential Agency X clients) about how Agency X tried to undermine the relationship that Ted had built up over many years. It goes without saying that word gets around.
We can’t disqualify Agency X like an underhand badminton player, but what we can do is learn that nobody likes a cheat and nothing good for either party comes from such business development tactics. I can’t imagine for a second that any client would want to work with an agency that employs such shady tactics to get a meeting.
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