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Adland is a dynamic business.
Every day, something new is happening and to be honest, that’s one of the reasons I love it.
It has an unstoppable energy that can pick you up and take you on an unforgettable journey.
That said, there are times when that journey is utterly, utterly shit.
There’s a bunch of reasons for that … sometimes it’s a project is killed, sometimes it’s because there’s a difference of opinion and sometimes it’s because an emergency happens that needs all hands on deck.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know there are occasions where some out-of-the-blue event can occur that causes a whole tsunami of trouble. Maybe it’s a World event … maybe it’s a competitive move … maybe it’s some issue within the organisation … but what drives me utterly bonkers is when it’s just lazy management.
The worst of the worst is when you get a frantic call about something that needs doing at the 11th hour.
Something they have been sitting on for an age.
Something they should have – and could have – dealt with weeks ago, if not months.
It always starts the same way.
A phone call asking for help.
They explain they’ve just had something ‘thrust upon them’.
How it’s unfair.
How they’re so busy.
How they know you’re so busy.
And then – in the same breath – they demand its execution.
That no excuse will be a good enough excuse.
That whatever you are doing is not as important as what they want you to be doing.
Because their needs are higher than your needs.
Their business is more important than your business.
That their fee is dependent on your ability to not let them down.
It’s more than just emotional blackmail, it’s blackmail.
As I said, I’m not talking about emergencies that happen beyond anyone’s control or anticipation, I’m talking about those emergencies that happen because there wasn’t any control and absolutely zero anticipation.
Even then, I can accept these things occasionally happen.
One self-created emergency is just about acceptable.
Two self-created emergencies and you better hope to god you’ve accumulated enough ‘credit’ with your agency partners to have them want to help you out.
Three self-created emergencies and you’re demonstrating your lack of capability, not your agencies.
If you want your agency to be a good partner, you have to be a good partner to your agency.
We throw words like ‘partner’ and ‘trust’ around like they’re confetti but they’re hugely important and incredibly hard to attain.
They also take a hell of a long time to nurture.
To do that, it requires both parties to be on the same page, not one sometimes holding a carrot and other times a stick.
If you want proof of what a long-term relationship can do, you don’t have to go much further than look at the work we do for NIKE. Or BBH do for Johnnie Walker. Or even what Ogilvy do for IBM.
Some say long term relationships build apathy. I think it liberates possibility.
But it needs equality and understanding to do that, because without it, everything dies well before the partnership is made officially dead.
We may be a ‘service industry’ [though I am not sure I agree with that] but we’re not a subservient industry which is why I believe if you have a client who is continually spreading their mayhem because of their lack of responsibility or action, then the only way you can maintain your credibility is to remind them their emergency is not our priority.
PS: The words on the picture at the top of this post were told to me by my lovely MD [that’s not creeping, he really is lovely – it makes me sick] who said they appeared on a picture that hung above a school teachers desk.
Imagine being a kid in that class … especially a kid who didn’t do their homework.
It’s evil bloody genius.
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