Three shops have advanced to the final round of the review triggered by United’s merger with Continental. Arnold, mcgarrybowen, TBWA\Chiat\Day to duel…The combined airline, which is based in Chicago, is using New York-based [agency search] consultant Bajkowski + Partners to manage the search. View on Adweek.com
Our response to an article that ran in today’s Ad Age about the “4A’s Missive Sent to Search Consultants Argues for New Agreements in New-Business Pitch Contracts”
Rather than trying to put the onus on consultants to add a “creative ownership” clause to its contract with the client, how about if the agencies refuse to sign any mutual confidentiality contracts that have clauses transferring the ownership of agency pitch IP to clients without compensation.
We also believe this is a telltale sign of how a client views the agency relationship and work product – if they don’t respect it now, it’s not going to get better later. This is also the kind of client we prefer not to do business with.
Honestly, we’ve never come across a situation where the client did not understand that any work shown by an agency during a pitch is still the IP of that agency unless some monetary consideration is negotiated. It’s not like the pitch work is a new business tchotchke.
As an agency search consultant, and someone who has also spent time on the client and agency sides, I insist on our clients being honest with incumbent agencies regarding the retention odds.
There are dozens of reasons an account goes into review, but in too many instances the review could have been avoided if the agency was smarter in the relationship-management area. For instance, agencies should always be re-pitching the business to avoid getting to a formal review stage.
And if there is a key client change, consider it an unofficial notice to re-pitch. Have a day or series of meetings to get the new person up to speed and, more importantly, learn about his/her views and goals. You’d be surprised at how many agencies don’t do this.
If you find your agency in the unfortunate situation of having to defend, put the ego aside and objectively determine why the account is in review, what your odds of retention are, and if this really is a marriage worth saving.
But also realize that corporate politics can be incomprehensible and beyond your control (as well as your key contact’s), and you may never really know the truth behind the review. As a few CMOs have said to me, the first bullet has the agency’s name on it.