WEEK 6: Attitude Adjustment

There once was a time (I’m told) when brands and advertisers saw each other as equals. When a brand partnered with an advertising agency, they were entrusting their identity into the agency’s hands. The agency would take ownership of that brand and together, the brand and the agency would build a lasting identity for themselves and treat each other with courtesy and respect.

Oh, how times have changed.

Nowadays, in addition to the bigger conventional agencies, there are hundreds of smaller agencies and production houses all competing for business. To try and increase their value to clients, these smaller agencies claim to do everything – for example, production houses typically handle execution of scripts. These days you will find production houses that not only create their own content, but also claim to handle its digital distribution.

As a result, marketers are always looking for a one-stop solution, thus making life harder for more specialised agencies (like ours). To survive, we have been forced to understand and handle digital promotion, as well as occasionally create and execute conventional advertising pieces. We also produce all of our work in-house.

Another problem that we frequently face is that a lot of brands these days treat their content agencies like 24 hour fast food restaurants. Since they have so much content so easily available, they assume that it is alright to demand content whenever they want and the agency will deliver. One of our partner brands did this very thing to us this week. On extremely short notice, the team had to jump into action because the brand suddenly demanded content.

And when brands don’t get what they want when they want it, they immediately threaten to dissolve their partnership with the agency, since so many other agencies are so easily available. Therefore, smaller agencies often work under a lot of pressure with very little security.     

I must clarify that not all brands are like this, but this is definitely a growing trend. In the past, we’ve had to come to brands’ offices at a moment's notice (regardless of our schedule), wait for hours at a meeting for marketers to grace us with their presence, prepare entire pitches at short notice, and ideate and write scripts multiple times for free, just to try to secure business for ourselves.

What we learned is that sometimes being too available for a brand might backfire. We thought that the brand would appreciate the extra effort and give us more business, but more often than not, brands interpreted this effort as desperation and proceeded to take us for granted. But when we made ourselves a little less available and unapologetically valued ourselves and our work fairly, then some brands actually took us more seriously.  

This method does not always work though, and that’s when we usually have to make a decision on how important that respective brand's business is to us.

It’s always refreshing to work with a client that is exactly aligned with our vision.  A bad client will put more emphasis on their product as opposed to the content. Their priority will be their product window and placement of their logo everywhere possible. Good clients, on the other hand, focus on the content and genuinely want to entertain their audiences so that they can communicate with them in a relevant way. This week we met with a potential partner, and were thrilled when their focus was entirely content-related. The meeting was promising, and we hope that it will lead somewhere. As always, I’ll keep you posted.

See you next week!

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