Agencies should defend their clients

12 Oct

Agencies and clients talk a lot about partnership. Easily done when times are good. What about when a campaign flops? Clients sometimes blame the advertising, their agency blames everything else…the dance continues.

What about when the client does something without using their agency and the market responds poorly to it? It could be a clumsy ad. A social media gaffe. A promotion gone south.

The natural response from their agency is probably to:

Protect their own reputation: quietly tell the market – hey, that wasn’t our idea. WE didn’t do that.

Kick the client when they’re down: put in a call or email to the client – just to let you know, wow, that really blew up. Here’s all the negative feedback we’ve been hearing. We could have done that better. And, I told you so.

A true partner, a brave agency, should consider:

Immediately helping: since agencies are experts in shifting consumer perceptions, they can make a correction ad. A poster for their client’s stores. Write apology copy for their website. Craft a strategy to make good. Whatever it is, give it to the client. For free. And without berating them.

Publicly defending the client: more than likely, there were good intentions or some rationale behind the client’s misstep. The market may not be willing to hear about it from the client themselves. How about the agency jumping into the mudslinging fray and sticking up for the client (with full disclosure about their relationship)?

Nobody likes a fair-weather friend. Or agency.

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