Lines of battle must be broken

Ellis Watson’s comments served as a client effigy of agencies “linear” débâcle (MW February 21). There are essentially just two things that prevent seamless agency synergy across the line.

Ellis Watson’s comments served as a client effigy of agencies “linear” débâcle (MW February 21).

There are essentially just two things that prevent seamless agency synergy across the line.

The first – ego – is easily explained. It refers to what makes an agency – such as the one referred to in the article – assume its idea is “sufficiently strong”. As a client, I’d find the word “sufficiently” wholly unacceptable, its place being with the other inadmissables: “can’t”, “mark-up” and “fee increase”.

The second is what Watson alludes to in his article – a kind of disciplinary apartheid, the insistence of agencies that theirs is the only truly capable discipline. But the superiority theory doesn’t really hold true. As with almost all apartheid regimes, ignorance is the real obstacle. These agencies feel threatened, and what’s worse, as Watson so rightly suggests, threatened by something they don’t fully comprehend.

But what all agencies of all disciplines should bear in mind is that without an appreciation and understanding for what the client’s brand is about, and what the objectives are, it is nothing less than pure arrogance (and avarice) to assume advertising is the only discipline that can build a brand, sales promotion is the only true tactical option, etc. Especially when there’s copious evidence to the contrary.

The sooner these agencies get off their high disciplinary hobbyhorse, the sooner clients’ faith will be renewed in the validity and appropriateness of their offering.

Towing the line needn’t involve crossing it, but rather involves knowing when to draw it – where the benefits of one discipline end and another (combination or standalone) begin.

Sheena Horgan



London N1

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