ISBA President calls for change in client-agency relationships


By The Drum Team, Editorial

April 21, 2010 | 3 min read

Mark Hunter, CEO of Molson Coors (UK) and President of ISBA, today called for transformational change in the client-agency relationship.

In his 20-minute address Hunter’s focus was a call for action to adland: “...transformational change is required now in the marketing communications industry to ensure that clients and agencies maximise the opportunity for brilliant and effective work…” And he identified areas and challenges for clients and agencies to address.

He challenged the agency world to respond to:

Understand the changing role of consumers.

• Take back ownership of the strategic agenda.

• Review the relevance of ‘old world’ classifications such as above-the-line and below-the-line.

• Develop open sourcing for ideas as a viable financial model.

• To take responsibility for driving a change in pricing models to account for the impact of digital.

• Move to outcome-based compensation rather than hourly rates and manpower.

• Communicate their ‘value add’ to distinguish themselves from media owners.

• Offer project management as well as creative and buying services due to increased pressure on overheads.

Hunter then challenged the client side to create the environment to enable agencies to change:

• To more effectively invite agency partners into the world of advertisers to ensure they really understand the total client business.

• To identify what their real business challenges are and ensure this is communicated to agencies.

• To work at the relationship with agencies; talking frequently, sharing agendas and giving regular performance feedback.

• Setting and sticking to best practice in effective agency management on a day-to-day basis.

• To address the emergence of procurement departments. Clients have to take responsibility for setting out the strategy for their involvement in agency relationships and both sides must invest time to find win-win scenarios.

Hunter concluded by saying both sides should take responsibility for change: “The marketing communications world is quite simply a means to an end….an opportunity to educate, entertain, persuade and ultimately change behaviour to drive value however that is measured in a particular industry and that ‘end’ needs to be jointly owned by the advertiser and agency world...

"…I am a realist and an optimist and truly believe that the advertiser-agency world can drive transformational change to ensure that the world of marketing communications stays vital and delivers on its promise, and you have my commitment that in parallel ISBA will continue to fight alongside the IPA and media owners within the Advertising Association to protect our right to advertise responsibly and deliver the oxygen that business requires.”

See the full speech here


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