'Know your stuff, collaborate and keep your ego in check' - Diageo global design director on what makes successful client/agency relationships

"No-one wants to be Robin, we all want to be Batman," remarked Diageo global design director, Jeremy Lindley, as he addressed the crowd at The Drum's 'Brief Encounters - New Business, New Relationships, True Love' conference this morning.

He added that the "hero and sidekick" analogy often drawn on in the marketing industry, wasn't correct as a really good client/agency relationship is all about co-creation.

In his session - 'Tell us what you really need Mr/Mrs client' - Lindley referenced David Ogilvy's famous quote 'Clients get the work they deserve' and having been on both sides of the table, he agreed this to be true, revealing that at Diageo he could see behaviours that had possibly led to what he thought was the brand's "poorer work".

Collaboration is key when it comes to the agency/client relationship, according to Lindley, who unveiled eight things clients expect from great agencies and eight things a good client should do.

Guidance, creativity, thinking, listening and passion were five of the eight key things reeled off by Lindley in addition to the brief being delivered. "Clients put a great deal of time and effort into the brief - by all means challenge it, push it and answer what you think the brief should be, but don't change it."

Knowing your stuff and controlling your ego were also salient points and Lindley remarked of the final point: "Clients want great creative, guidance and strong points of view, but keep the ego under control. Defend your work but prepare to be wrong, a great client/agency relationship is all about give and take and nothing annoys a client more than an agency that over claims what they've done."

The eight things a good client should do included knowing what they want, having the right team and the right designer, planning the strategy, clearing the way, consulting with the agency, telling the truth and internal selling.

"The most common story, when it comes to the client/agency relationship is that of superhero and villain; the hero designer creates something for an idiotic client but that's just not true," said Lindley.

"There are very few idiotic clients, they wouldn't be running a business if they were".

He cited Diageo's most recent launch - Haig Club (video above) - as a good example of how a client and agency should work together. The work was designed and created in a non-traditional way with people who had never designed a whisky brand before working in partnership with Diageo to create a fresh perspective, according to Lindley.

He concluded that an "Avengers Assemble" set-up is more realistic, adding that for great work "multiple superheroes need to come together from both sides to create great work and transform the business".

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