Look in the Mirror | Adweek
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Look in the Mirror

  • April 29, 2002, 12:00 AM EDT
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It's become very fashionable for agencies to cry foul during these challenging economic times.

Over the last few months, many of us agency folk have complained that clients don't value or respect our contributions and that it's time to reassert our worth to clients, to each other and to the outside world. That it's time for the downtrodden agencies to rise up and re-establish their supreme importance to clients and anyone else who will listen.

Maybe, just maybe, instead of crying foul, instead of blaming clients, the economy, the boogeyman or any other external forces, maybe—dare I say—maybe we should look in the mirror.

Maybe a lot of us just aren't very good at what we do.

Maybe a lot of agencies are stacked with mediocre talent turning out mediocre product. Maybe they coasted through the '90s, blissfully carried and nursed by a once-in-a-lifetime economic boom.

Maybe we need to look in the mirror. Hard.

Guess what? We live in a cutthroat business world. As do our clients. As do those in the movie business, on Wall Street, in the fashion industry, etc. In every industry, the guy who is supplying the product, service, notion or potion to the other guy is getting squeezed harder. Ad agencies' clients are no different from any executive on the buy side of any equation.

Clients are tough, but clients also have it tough. Clients want a lot for a little. Clients are under tremendous quarter-to-quarter pressure, and making agencies feel all warm and fuzzy is not exactly at the top of their agenda.

Clients realize there's always another agency waiting in line.

Clients don't hesitate to pull the trigger if they're not happy. Yeah? And? It's called business. It's called free enterprise. It's called reality.

We've built a pretty successful agency. We have tough and demanding clients. Even those whose businesses are sensational and who openly credit our contributions are constantly asking what we're going to do for them tomorrow.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Do our clients value us? I would assume so. If not, they would fire us. We don't need hugs. Just a fair paycheck for a strong product.

And we get it.

Maybe a lot of us should stop asking for respect. Maybe a lot of us should stop asking to be held in higher regard.

If you have to ask, well ... maybe us agency folk need to look hard in the mirror. Maybe a lot of us just aren't as good at what we do as we think we are.

Maybe we have to do better.