Many companies and corporations begin an annual review cycle of their advertising agency relationship at this time of year. This can be stressful for both client and service provider, especially if there were no metrics established that can clearly help guide a measurement of success or failure.
That process aside, there are several key considerations anyone should undertake as they go forward with an agency review process:
1. Clearly state that changing agencies would be in the best interests of the brand or the business organization, and will enhance shareholder value. Make certain that best efforts have been made to restore the existing client/agency relationship to health. You might consider engaging third party consultant to initiate and facilitate this process.
2. If a review is determined to be the best course of action, be certain that key managers fully back the effort, and that the key decision-makers are clearly identified and included in the process. Engage the GM, Marketing Director/Manager, PR director, and others involved in the marketing process.
3. Review the contract provisions before beginning a review. Pay specific attention to the notice period and
termination of contract compensation. Always consult the legal department with regards to contractual aspects of a termination if possible.
4. Consider the implications of informing the existing agency that the review is taking place. Weigh the need for confidentiality against the scenario of the incumbent finding out about the review from another source.
5. Gain consensus with everyone involved in the process about what the requirements of the agency are. Invest time and effort to develop the budget for the review. Focus on producing a written brief describing the brand or company’s current position and future requirements in the context of clear marketing and business objectives.
6. Determine what type of pitch that will best enable you in making the appointment. The traditional pitch process is expensive for both parties. Many successful agency appointments are based on reputation, personal chemistry, credentials and references from other clients, as opposed to a formal pitch.
7. Before begnning the review process, ask the participating agencies to into a mutual confidentiality non-disclosure agreement to deal with issues concerning copyright and intellectual property. This should cover material supplied by the client for the pitch, and that produced by the agency in response.
8. Most importantly, prepare and provide a communications strategy about the agency review in advance, so that you are prepared to deal with approaches from the trade press if news of the pitch is leaked at any stage during the process.
These are just a few of the many concerns you might consider when undergoing an agency change. If you’ve never coordinated one before, or have had troubles executing one in the past, we can help.