Agency relationships are like…

jeans. Naturally.

I’m getting ready (physically and emotionally) to chuck my favourite pair of jeans and I realised just how much like my jeans are to an agency relationship. With me as a client.

  • When I bought them, I shopped around for many different brands and fits.
  • I made a conscious decision not to skimp on the cost – and they’ve delivered in spades. I’ve had cheap jeans that look great on the hanger but that just haven’t lasted the course.
  • I had to make a few initial alterations (shortening the legs).
  • On the advice of a consultant, I didn’t wash them for six months, just let them get comfortable. I’ve really enjoyed the benefits since – they haven’t stretched or shrunk. They are, in the words of Goldilocks, just right.
  • They are now unique to me – the small rips and frays, the discolourations, where my belt buckle rubs.
  • They’ve lasted five good years.

But now my CMO wants an agency review, and I’ve had to give them the bad news, it’s hard to let them go.

2 Responses to Agency relationships are like…

  1. David Brain says:

    Hi Ed……er excuse me for asking the obvious question but why the hell is your CMO doing that if they are good? Does he know how rare and valuable a good – client agency ‘fit’ is? I can tell you from the agency side that when you get the “you’re great but we’re gonna do a review and look around” call, you say all the right things, but you never feel the same about the client. The magic goes . . that client goes from one of the special ones, to just another client and I cannot even begin to tell you the difference value-wise in that. It’s like if your partner said: “Ed, living with you is great, but there just might be someone out there a bit better”. They come back to you maybe, but it will never be the same. Your agency will be way to polite and professional to tell you and your CMO this, but here it is from someone who has been in agencies for 23 years in 5 different countries:

  2. Ed Lee says:

    Thanks for the comment – great to see just where there are holes in my thinking/perspective. You are, of course, correct – that part of the analogy does not stand up to scrutiny.

    Specifically, I was thinking about the times in my time (considerably less than 23 years) when a new CMO has come in and asked for an all-agency review. I’m guessing that, like my wife, the CMO won’t see the imperfections as being endearing, they’ll be seen as inefficient or undesirable.

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