Here’s a nice product seeding idea. Good for the airline, good for the product, good for the passenger. Win-win. I like it.
How often do you hear that a client is pitching its account after a long and successful marriage with its agency (i.e. more than 5 years)? Not very often? Because it doesn’t happen in this region. Clients here are not so loyal.
Actually it’s the psyche of the entire region. There are no loyalties except to those who appear ‘popular’ at a certain point in time. When something is a new fad (e.g. the latest hotel, the newest café, the newest trend), everyone runs to be part of it. But before you know it, the buzz inevitably runs out and people go searching for other new things to latch onto.
In the communication industry, on an individual level (apart from a handful of people who have built their media empires from the oil boom of the past decades and become sort of industry ‘icons’), a person or company can be the darling of the regional award scene one year, and hardly get a mention the next.
And how often do you hear that a project you’ve been working on for what seems like ages has been dropped, just like that? Perhaps it wasn’t well planned to start with?
Whatever the manifestation of this lack of loyalty and impromptu decisions, the reason we have arrived at this situation, I believe, is twofold:
1. Collectively we don’t have enough patience
When I started my communications career overseas, it was not rare to read headlines like ‘Reebok parts with its agency after 25 years’ or ‘Burger King parts with its agency after 15 years’. The reasons for parting was often because of a deep change in the philosophy or vision of one or both of the parties. The split was usually amicable and not really a surprise to either.
Like any good relationship, a client /agency /brand relationship strengthens and improves over time. Agencies need to be given the time it takes to truly understand and help shape a brand they are working on. And to learn from the mistakes that might happen along the way. And to follow a vision they and their client have for the brand. And to foster customer relationships.
But all too often in our region, the agency turnaround on a brand is too quick, and agencies are not treated as true partners in a relationship. They are dropped at a whim and clients find it too easy to call for a pitch or award the business to another more ‘friendly’ agency.
2. We don’t value spending time planning before building
We don’t spend time when building brands.
And brands don’t spend time building brand communities.
And clients don’t spend time building their agency or their customer relationships.
And corporations don’t spend time building their staff or their reputations.
I think there are many reasons for this lack of long term loyalty and planning culture:
Sadly, most clients have a high staff turnover, and the new team wants to work with people they are used to. So they fire the old agency and wheel in a new one.
And the region seems for many to be transient, a stop for a few years to make some money and live a life they wouldn’t ordinarily lead back home. So they don’t have any interest in long term planning and would rather implement because that’s what looks good on the CV.
Or it could be the lack of quality (qualitative) research being done by clients and agencies to truly understand the consumer in the market and their deep desires and motives. And most importantly the different cultures, deeply ingrained traditions, beliefs and habits held in the region.
And, (this might sound harsh) but I think there are many people who don’t know how to plan. And don’t know how to maintain a good relationship.
I think we are all worse off because of this lack of patience and commitment to longevity. The brand loses continuity and focus, the client loses, the customers lose and as individuals we lose the gratification that comes from seeing a brand grow and develop. The region is worse off because we lose our identity. Communication starts to feel superficial, not connected with the audience, and there is no continuity in the brand/ corporate conversation.
What do we about it? I don’t have the answers – but for a start, clients need to be educated in how to deal with their agencies and rewarded for maintaining agency relationships. They need to learn that a good agency is an asset that can help them and their brand shine.
We need to start having open, honest and transparent conversations based on mutual trust and win-win situations. Clients need to start treating agencies as partners rather than having a client vs. agency attitude. That’s what we’re trying to do here at Livingroom.
What about you? What’s your experience with your client or agency? I’d like to hear your point of view.
“I am not sure it will work in this part of the world…”
The next time I hear this comment, again, I may commit an offense.
An offense I will enjoy so much.
An offense that will relieve this built up frustration I have been accumulating for a while now.
“This part of the world’ is not a ‘location’ anymore…it has become an ‘excuse’.
An excuse for people not to push the limits of creativity…
An excuse for complacency and copycats…
An excuse to cover mediocrity…
An excuse to accept facts and stop fighting for what we believe in…
An excuse that is tagging us and our region as ‘boring followers’.
The communication world has evolved but we’re somehow stuck a decade ago.
I look around and everyone “seems” to be embracing change and preaching right left and center about the need to evolve.
And with the sudden proliferation of self-proclaimed ‘Social Media’ experts you would think this region should be at top levels of innovation.
But the reality is different.
What we are seeing beyond conventional media is copies of ideas developed abroad… years ago! Be it piano stairs, airport flash mobs, 3D mapping…and the list goes on and on.
And what worries me the most is that the culprits are so oblivious to this reality that they shamelessly brag, tag, like, share and Tweet their “original” ideas…
What went wrong?
What is stopping us from innovating?
Why aren’t we leading on big ideas?
Why are we importing rather than exporting?
Why the mediocrity?
What is stopping our creative minds to push the limits beyond comfort zones?
Is it the lack of time?
Are we too involved in day-to-day briefs and always anxious to meet deadlines?
Is it the client or the limitations he sets?
Is it the lack of expertise or knowledge?
I don’t think so. These are excuses mediocre people hide behind to cover the absence of genius.
It’s rather a ‘state of mind’ issue. This is where change needs to happen.
What we lack is continuous dreamers, researchers, untamed spirits, brave people who push boundaries and always try to understand how things work.
These days, we can afford to dream. Almost everything can be done. Technology has become so awesome that no excuses are allowed.
And this region doesn’t lack dreamers… They just lack proper guidance…and Inspiration.
In a world dominated by “dinosaurs”, how can untamed minds flourish?
Creative mentors have been around for so long now. And they’re so self absorbed in their TVCs, Prints, Lynx, Cannes, Crystals, Egos that it’s directly affecting and reshaping fresh minds.
When out of the top 10 ‘most influencers’ media persons of the year, one or two (and I owe them respect) are under 50, how do you expect an effective metamorphosis?
Dinosaurs…take a step back. It’s not about you changing or adapting anymore. Its about giving way to fresh new blood. Untamed minds. Let new ‘states of minds” flourish.
Young creatives. Look at what’s out there. Not to copy, but to get inspired.
Learn new techniques. Hang out with true Social media experts (best way to do it is online).
Challenge your clients. They will love that.
Challenge your agency. They might not love that, but keep doing it.
Be brave. Understand. Fight. Convince.
And you can do that alone. What matters is to have the right state of mind. and you don’t need ageing mentors for that.
Your audience has taken the reigns of things.
They are your judges, and they are mean.
They want to be surprised in every single possible way.
Your audience is in touch with the world. They’ve seen Piano stairs, Flashmobs and 3D mapping.
They’re difficult to impress. They want something new.
Your audience is speaking out loud. They are shaping their countries, their worlds.
She is driving.
They are doing things they never thought of doing few years back.
They are redefining ‘This part of the world”.
…and start doing things you never thought you could do few years back.
It’s your opportunity to turn ‘This part of the world’ from an ‘excuse to mediocrity’, to a ‘synonym of Inspiration and greatness’.
You have no excuses.
Here’s one that should inspire new ideas and substantiate some existing ones.