Every ad agency wants good clients (meaning ones who desire great advertising and pay their bills on time). And some clients agree with this. But as Scott G points out, many firms seem to be working from a slightly different perspective, one that kills creativity right from the start.

“Clients get the advertising they deserve” is an old adage in marketing. It’s true enough, I suppose, although it overlooks the fact that agencies sometimes serve their clients poorly (see companion article, “Awful Agency Disease”).

Still, there are client policies and procedures that can work to foster advertising campaigns that are ugly, intrusive, annoying, demeaning, and worst of all, ineffective. Here are a few of those misguided methods.

The Agency Review
Demand that agencies create speculative ads. Because after all, ideas aren’t important, but pretty pictures with your logo in them are crucial, especially when the CEO cannot visualize anything. It virtually forces agencies into figuring out how to overcharge clients in order to make up for losses incurred when making the pitch.

If a client truly wanted a great team to work on their advertising and marketing, they would have agencies show prior work and explain how and why it was developed. If you know the marketplace situation, the advertising challenge, the target audience, and the budget, you can then appreciate the thinking that went into the campaign. That should be enough to tell you if you’ve found the ideal agency for your brand.

Hire Golfing Buddies
This would never happen in today’s business climate. Right? Could it? Well, that would explain a lot of the campaigns currently being created.

Issue an RFP
A dreaded time-wasting methodology from the arcane federal government bidding process, the Request for Proposal is guaranteed to keep agency people working feverishly to address questions like “Demonstrate industry effectiveness in resource and human resources allocation across multiple regions and deliverables and resources.” Or words to that effect.

We here at AIN have received unverified reports that RFPs are often written by a team of monkeys chained to word processors in the basement of those large buildings out by the airport.

Whoever creates them, RFPs can run thirty pages. Fifty pages. A hundred and thirty pages. Somewhere, some committee is working on an ERFT, an Endless Request For Proposal. This will be ideal for those firms acting as consultants in the selection of a new agency.

Kill the Concepts
Ask for “bold bright new ideas” but run them past a committee for approval. Then whine and complain that the agency never develops anything bold, bright or new.

Always Accuse
Make certain everything that goes wrong gets blamed on the agency. It is never ever the client’s fault. Incomplete information, misleading direction, conflicting input…none of that matters in the least; always point to the agency as the culprit.

Be 65% Consistent Half the Time
Keep changing the boundaries of what you demand of the agency. Make certain they are always second-guessing themselves so that middle-of-the-road creative solutions are suggested. Then complain about those. And blame one of the people at the agency. A different one each time.

Change for Change’s Sake
When in doubt, change everything. Throw out the USP. Change the theme. Create a new marketing brief. And by all means fire your current agency or order a review.

[tags]G-Man, Scott G, Communication Nation, advertising, marketing, ad rants, advertising agency, brand equity[/tags]

John Scott G, an admitted word nerd, writes books, plays, screenplays, and political commentary. Author of "Area Code 666," "Secret Sex," and "Ambient Deviant Speedmetal Polka," Mr. G also writes under the pseudonym Gerald Laurence. Every day he happily rubs a few phrases up against each other to create sparks in your brain. You're welcome.
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