John Lewis: Agency/client relationships should be “happily dysfunctional”

In-agency arguing and being “happily dysfunctional” is key to the success of John Lewis’s relationship with agency Adam & Eve DDB, according to its marketing director Craig Inglis.  

John Lewis
John Lewis ad from 2011 was a product of a ‘happily dysfunctional’ relationship with its agency.

The retailer’s marketing director Craig Inglis and James Murphy, founding partner of its agency Adam & Eve DDB spoke at the IPA’s Adaptathon event on the future of client agency relationships, which took place in central London today (3 October).

Inglis said: “We’re not in a functional relationship. We’re happily dysfunctional. My proudest moments in the relationship are when I see people from within the agency arguing with each other, that’s when you know you’ve actually got the relationship right.”

This is preferred to a client agency relationship being “a client supplier thing” where everything is “too pitched and over presented” added Inglis.

When discussing the success of its working partnership with John Lewis, Murphy admitted that when an agency does really well it’s vital to stop “complacency creeping in” and the fact they are “locking horns” with John Lewis over the music in the 2013 Christmas advert is positive.

Murphy said: “The fact that we are arguing currently over things like music is helpful because it would be very easy for us all to get quite complacent.”    


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