The perils of finding a new agency

My impressionable young brand manager is desperately keen to find a new agency. She thinks the incumbent has been working on the brand for too long and has run out of steam. Meeting lots of prospective new agencies that will all promise to wave the magic wand may sound exciting but I am not entirely sure that pitching the business is the answer.

Is the agency suddenly incapable of good work or has my brand manager failed to get the best out of them? After all, cracking the “big idea” that she can’t quite put her finger on is surely a joint responsibility. I suspect that there is a bit of both going on here but years of experience have told me that pitching the business is not always the best answer.

I am also concerned about the time needed in managing a pitch process. While doing a scarily good impression of sounding like my dad – something I vowed never to do – I try to share the benefit of my marketing experience and tell my junior charge that I need more convincing that we should seek fresh blood. Emotionally, however, I fear she has already left the incumbent and the prospect of going back to them is not appealing.

She tells me not to worry about time spent managing a pitch process as she has found a specialist matchmaking firm that can do all the leg work for us. This sounds like further outsourcing of responsibility to me, and I remind her that such services are not provided by charitable organisations and their fees would need to come out of her total budget leaving less to spend on marketing.

“Her own professional reputation will not be enhanced if she hides behind an estate agent”

Also, has she considered how miserable it will be when she has to tell the unsuccessful candidate agencies that they have not been successful in winning the pitch? She tells me that the matchmaker does all of that so it’s not an issue. I suggest to her that her own professional reputation will not be enhanced in the marketing world if she hides behind an estate agent and these things are better handled personally. She nods as I pass on the wisdom of my years. But unperturbed she decides my thoughts are interesting but not that relevant to her masterplan and that we should still plough ahead.

So should I give youth its head or pull rank and refuse to sanction a pitch? Tricky one. I already know my answer but tell her that I’d like to take the weekend to reflect on the situation.


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