Friday, August 14, 2009

The Great Schism (English Version)

trust (BELIEVE)
to have belief or confidence in the honesty, goodness, skill or safety of a person, organization or thing- Cambridge Dictionary

"The speech inspires less confidence that the actions" - Aristotle

"Collaboration requires trust. Trust has to be earned. Over time people learn to trust you for your ability."
- Ridderstrale at Nordstrom and Karaoke Capitalism

Trust is the relationship’s tensiometer between agencies and advertisers.

Where it prevails, it means that there is a seamless communication and delegation of powers, because members of the company trust to each other, which avoids fierce competition for control. They know they can rely on each of their colleagues, because they believe in their individual virtues, and consequently, in their responsibilities. It allows members to develop their assets freely which, integrating all the employees’ skills, helps to have a sort of kaleidoscopic view over the market and therefore differentiate their company from the competition.
Trust is the most suitable and legitimate vehicle for promoting the talents of an organization and thus better results. It’s a whole different story when a company must transfer or delegate power and responsibility to an external body, specially when it comes to advertising agencies and advertisers. The advertiser has to know well his product/service and the market, while agencies has to support strategically and creatively the client’s decision to sell more. Theoretically it sounds great, but happens this in the practical area?

In 2003, I attended as a student at the Ojo de Iberoamerica ( and heard Damián Kepel’s speech (Owner and Creative Director of Kepel&Mata). Over the stage I saw a ping pong table. The tiny man started calling people from the audience to play table tennis. With the volunteers he demonstrated to be a good player and later he called up Argentina´s champions of ping pong, who made a harmonious and colorful game. Kepel made an analogy between the ping pong and the advertiser-agency relationship. He showed that if both play in the "major league" the outcome will be much more successful if one is on a upper level and the other on a lower ground. On the real arena, agencies win pitches showing their creative skills and not for their ability to satisfy the potential customer’s demand. This happens because the client hasn’t got robust information about the agency’s past performance with other accounts, just some awards but on which they can’t relay on, because it doesn’t shed light over the ROI (return of investment).

An announcer can only judge his agency once the creative work is out in the streets, billboards, television, digital media, etc. Also it’s almost impossible to track results upon recognition of the commercial, for example. This situation gives the agency an external excuse, if the marketing objectives weren’t accomplished.

Clients might be discontent with their agencies, but when it comes to international brands many times the advertising agency is imposed by the head office. For example FIAT is managed globally by Leo Burnett.

An other option is to trust the advertising budget to a “friend”: many marketing managers establish a strong friendship with influential ad men. After the ad’s shooting, one of the top creative individuals invites his client to a party organized by Adlatina (the magazine which I mentioned on a previous article). Suddenly, the manager finds himself immersed in a dream world, surrounded by beautiful women, booze and pot. Wrapped in a mundane Eden the manager entrust his brand to the ad man. Why? Because he was mesmerized by a cool person, who belongs to an enchanted world and has the key to give his brand a magic touch, which will help to boost sales. Depending on the personality of the product or brand, it's easier to be tempted to delegate control to a trendy and fashion guy who inspires creativity and originality.

Coming up, specific cases where agencies savor the bitter taste of a decision made by senior managers of a company upon the last campaign results:

• Great majority of clients are disenchanted with their advertising agencies, and not just because they can not measure the result of their efforts. On a survey just 21% would recommend their agency.
Source: Forrester Research

• Telecom Company, whose campaign ran the agency Agulla & Baccetti for years, was seduced by new firms and thus put an end to their old relationship. Source: Clarín

• A recent survey reveals that clients are far from being satisfied with their agency’s work and now they are reviewing the contract.
Source: Citigate

• The concept of partnership between agency, client and media is bleeding. Source: Portal Advertising

To find a solution, there has to be an approach towards the customer and work together to germinate and develop the trust concept on a solid platform that contains the bilateral relationship.

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