Why Obedience Is Not The Same As Client Orientation
Somewhere in the Nineties, Stella Artois had a brilliant campaign, showing horribly scratched design icons — someone had put the cap of a bottle of Stella to an edge of it and cracked it open, leaving the object itself badly wounded.
The payoff: “Reassuringly expensive”. Yes, very Nineties, quite constructed. Still — there is something to it. We know consumer behavior and psychology well enough to admit that people do think that a product that is more expensive is a product of higher quality.
This simple equation has its limitations, of course. But if you look at Leavingstone’s first Cannes Lions awarded campaign, beer lovers will pay even a ridiculously high price for a bottle of beer just to find out whether it is really that much better.
In the service industries — like in advertising — things are a little different. You can’t just slap a higher price on your product and expect people to think that your services are better than others. You have to earn a higher price tag and deliver on it every day.
It’s a touchy subject. People have a tendency to think that all agencies more or less deliver the same services at more or less the same level of quality. Which is wrong, of course. Just like there are differences in the quality of beers, cars, clothes and bread, there are differences in quality between advertising agencies.
And that’s just fine. It has to be like that. Some people want a highly creative campaign, some people look for something more standard. Some CMOs want to tell an agency what to do, others ask an agency what they think they should do. Not because they are clueless, but because they value the agency’s opinion.
It is only natural that an agency like Leavingstone is labeled with some unpleasant statements from time to time. Like “They are overpriced.” Sure we are — if you think that agency services should have something like a standard price. Or a comment like “They just do this creative stuff, not things that are good for the business.” The businesses of our clients are doing just as fine as our own, so that can’t be true.
Some people are also a little irritated because we can be difficult. We are really bad at switching our brains off, which leads to discussions, sometimes even controversy. But most of our clients understand that they themselves are agents as well — working for the brand they have been given to take care of. And they understand that our task is not to serve them personally, but to help them solve whatever problem they are facing.
That’s clearly a more difficult relationship than a simple “You do what I tell you to do.” It is more challenging, more complicated. But it is also much more rewarding, both for the agency and the client. And as much as it may seem to be more expensive — not making proper use of the talents, the knowledge and the experience a good agency has to offer is way more expensive in the long run.
Following orders is not client orientation. And short term cheap is long term expensive.