Short Term Affairs in Asian Advertising?

Short Term Affairs in Asian Advertising?

Once upon a time, the advertising agencies and the client enjoyed a long term relationship. The marriage can easily last for decades. Sadly, the fairy tale ending of “live happily ever after” is no more.

Nike shocked the advertising industry in March 2007 when it said adieu to Wieden & Kennedy, its founding creative partners of 20 years and author to it’s world-famous slogan, “Just Do It”.

In 2002, Heineken Brewery took its advertising away from Lowe Lintas, the agency that in one form or another has run it for the last 30 years. The move brought to an end one of the most enduring and creatively fertile relationships between a client and an agency that the business has seen.

Singapore Airline also abandoned its 35 years of relationship with Batey Ads earlier this year. Batey Ads is renowned for creating “Singapore Girl”, most probably the only world-recognized icon in Asia.

That’s from the client side, what about the advertising agency side of the story?

Trade people raised their eye-brows when BBH Singapore scooped the prestigious Tiger Beer account in December 2006, beating BBDO and David Communications. Our eye brows arched even further when BBH decided to ditch the client 5 months later, supposedly due to a change of work scope. This is so unlike BBH, who enjoyed long-term relationships with Levis and Audi – in excess of 20 years.

According to R3 Asia Pacific, a pitch consultancy firm, the average length of a client-agency relationship in Asia is 2.4 years compared to the US and Europe where the average is 6.5 years. What has changed a long-term relationship into a short-term fling?

One school of thought believe that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is the reason. It is the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002, a United States federal law, enacted on July 30, 2002. This act was passed due to the huge accountancy scandals of Enron and Worldcom, and has increased attention to procurement disciplines inside international client companies. This means more and more companies conduct regular evaluations at shorter intervals to determine that their relationships with their advertising agencies are above board. Such evaluations may not necessarily mean a divorce but it enables the client to realize there are lots of fishes swimming out there. The one on the platter suddenly doesn’t look as appetizing and tantalizing any more.

So, in some ways, the client-agency relationship is more shallow these days. Some big clients took the stance of working with several advertising agencies on different campaigns at the same time. There is nothing wrong with that. The issue is with the depth of trust between the client and the ad agency. I’m sure even Adam and Eve took a while to know, understand and trust each other. Same goes with the client-agency relationship. The client will not benefit by changing advertising agencies constantly. How can the advertising agencies get to know the client and the DNA of the client’s brand, understand the market, fight the competition, churn out out-of-the-box strategy, etc, etc, etc.

In an earlier post, 4 Great Tips to Selecting The Best Marketing or Advertising Agency, I have listed my 4Ps in selecting an agency, that is, People, Proposal, Process, and Price. Many clients chose to judge by portfolio alone, which can be so, so very wrong. Some have said that they had been cheated by their agency through a pitch. Sure, the advertising agency can produce good work on the very first campaign but to ensure every campaign draws lots of accolades from the industry and usher in tons of money for the client will take time. For the chemistry to work, for the fireworks to spark, the client and the advertising agency simply have to tango together, long term, and not just for an evening.

[tags]Advertising in Asia[/tags]

5 Replies to “Short Term Affairs in Asian Advertising?”

  1. Hi Vivienne!

    The agency-client relationship depends on the way each one goes about their job. It’s moral responsibility of the agency not to use the money to project its own creative image. on the other, the client shouldn’t be stubborn to see the observations( genuine efforts of research) of the agency when they come out with.
    First we (the agency creative folks & clients) should come down from their ivory towers and work together, sans our kingsized egos, towards the brand. In the larger interests of the brand and the consumer directly.
    Hope this post kicks up a good discussion and sharing amongst creative and business blokes!

  2. This seems to be the trend in our post modern society and it happens in employment too! Most companies employ on contract and gone are the days of life long employment! Like all trends, it has its good and bad. As our business climate grows more competitive day by day, plus the rapid changes in world trends, this seems to be a natural progression of things!

  3. Hi Solomon

    Well said, the agency and the client must step down from their ivory towers and discard their king-sized ego to work together to build up a brand.

    === ===

    Hi bokjae

    Yes, there are also contract employees in ad agencies/design house. Cost of operation is one of the reasons that contribute to this trend.

  4. I believe it was Rensis Likert who said:

    “The greater the loyalty of a group toward the group, the greater is the motivation among the members to achieve the goals of the group, and the greater the probability that the group will achieve its goals.”

    Same goes with business relationships.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.