Clients versus agencies on what role procurement should play

Procurement can be a thorny topic for both client-side marketers and agencies. We asked people on both sides to share their views on the topic.

From left: Rebecca White, Heathrow; Will Abbott, Hiscox; Anders Ohlen, Volvo

What the clients say…

Rebecca White, head of marketing and brand, Heathrow

“We talk about relationships a lot and I honestly believe the agency-client relationship is about the first five or six dates. You know after six dates whether or not this is the one. The process gives you that time to learn. Procurement is like the mum, figuring out whether this is the right person to be working with.”

Will Abbott, marketing director, Hiscox

“Allowing the rules to be bent or broken completely, within reason, really helps the overall process and you get better work in the end. In every pitch, the last slide on any briefing [we hold] is ‘rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men’. We leave it to the agency to do with that what they will.”

Anders Ohlen, senior purchasing manager for marketing and advertising, Volvo

“My advice is to build a cross-functional team including senior management and get external support. Purchasing should not think it knows marketing and marketing should not think and believe it knows purchasing. Purchasing is change management.”

READ MORE: Why procurement must be marketing’s new best friend

From left: Jonathan Goodman, Lida; Helen McRae, Mindshare; Neil Christie, Wieden & Kennedy
From left: Jonathan Goodman, Lida; Helen McRae, Mindshare; Neil Christie, Wieden & Kennedy

What the agencies say…

Neil Christie, managing director, Wieden & Kennedy

“If there is one thing I would say to procurement, it would be don’t make your main KPI cost saving – you can’t cut your way to excellence. Agree the same KPIs with your agency and marketing, so you have the same ways of measuring value.

Jonathan Goodman, managing director, Lida

“All too often we get a document that we download from a procurement portal. There is no joy in it, and no passion that comes across to us. When we go into a room and we feel that passion, the love for the product and how it connects with customers, it gets us excited and we take that buzz back to the agency.”

Helen McRae, CEO, Mindshare

“There’s nothing more disheartening than waiting and hearing nothing [after a pitch]. You lose all of that momentum and excitement, and it’s a loss for both sides.”



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