The agency has completely gone off-piste… Are these the same guys that weeks earlier appeared to be surefire winners?

I have just returned from a meeting with our design agency. We recently appointed it after a pitch process to revamp one of our most established brands. I am not sure that there is anything fundamentally wrong with the positioning of the brand, but the packaging looks a little outdated and is in need of some tender loving care to restore it to former glories.

The product’s brand team has done a great job with the brief and at the pitch meeting the chosen agency appeared to completely grasp the task in hand, building our confidence that these were the right people for the job. As a result, I was looking forward to seeing the first round of creative work.

But what I have just seen is hugely disappointing. The agency has completely gone off-piste. I am stunned. Are these the same guys that weeks earlier appeared to be surefire winners?

The people are the same, the brief is completely unchanged, but something remarkable has changed between the pitch meeting and its first meeting as our appointed agency.

I fear that the answer is pretty simple. In securing the business, the agency paid great attention to the brief and our challenges. Having been awarded the business, the agency allowed its creative team to pay lip-service to everything that has gone before and ride roughshod over the process.

“The agency has completely gone off-piste… Are these the same guys that weeks earlier appeared to be surefire winners?”

If I were the account director for this agency, I would be mortified and embarrassed by today’s meeting. It appears that a dysfunctional group who on today’s showing are about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory has replaced the responsive listening agency that won the business.

Even midway through the meeting, things were looking remarkably positive. The seemingly sensible account director and even more reassuringly commercially minded planner presented a convincing PowerPoint preamble. With every page presented, I was more confident than ever that these guys really got it.

Then like a bat out of hell, the creative director presents his work. It is from another planet. In a desperate show of unity, his agency colleagues then unashamedly start to hard-sell his completely irrelevant ideas. If I was one of them, I would start my own agency and think about hiring a creative team rather than choosing to work for one.

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