Three CMOs on how agencies can become better partners

Top marketers from PepsiCo, TikTok and Moderna share how they believe partnerships with agencies can be improved.

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The relationship between brands and their agency partners can often be a tricky one to navigate. And while there are examples of long-term partnerships that have built over time and been hugely successful, there are also many cases where the relationship has fallen apart, leaving both parties frustrated.

Having worked in both successful partnerships and those that didn’t work out, there are steps agencies can take to ensure tension is minimised and the desired outcomes are achieved, according to three senior marketing leaders.

For TikTok’s head of global marketing Kate Jhaveri, the advice to agencies is don’t be afraid to push.

You’ve got to be deep in the business, but also you’ve got to push us.

Kate Jhaveri, TikTok

“It’s really possible to get caught in your own thinking about what this problem looks like, or what this opportunity could be. Part of the reason why we have agencies is for us to get a different view and to have a new way of thinking about a problem, or creativity,” she said, speaking at Cannes Lions this morning (20 June).

“You’ve got to be deep in the business, but also you’ve got to push us,” she adds.

Building on the idea of being embedded in the brand’s business, Kate Cronin, chief brand officer at pharmaceutical firm Moderna, said she wants agencies to be an extension of her team.

Fear and flattery from your agency partners will get you both nowhere

“Listen to our quarterly call. Know my business. It seems obvious, but I’m not hiring you just to be my marketing partner, I’m hiring you to be my business partner too,” she explained. “So the more you feel like you work at Moderna, the more successful you’ll be.”

For Mustafa Shamseldin, category growth officer and CMO of international foods at PepsiCo, agencies must invest resources andgetting the best talent out there early on.

“Be invested in this relationship,” he said. “It shows… We have a lot of examples of that working really well and not working well.”

At the same time he advises clients to have patience and give new partnerships time to bed in.

“Creativity is not possible without long-term partnerships…. So invest in the partnership from the agency side and accept that it’s a journey from the client side.”