The DON’Ts Of Advertising Agencies: The Chief Marketing Officer’s Edition

By SuperSpy 

According to a new study from the Verse Group and Jupiter Research: 45 percent of CMOs say they are spending more time managing their agencies than just two years ago. Only 21 percent of respondents say they are getting the best work from their agencies.”

Well, screw you, too. This is a partnership and maybe, just maybe, you’d get better work from us, if you followed a few simple rules. Welcome to the list of advertising don’ts – Chief Marketing Officer, style. I’m sure I have left out some good ones. Please feel free to add your own in the comments section.


1. Don’t prematurely leave your position… Here’s an idea, why don’t you stay in your job for longer than a year and a half – the average length of tenure for a CMO? Breaks in brand leadership generally kill off the current marketing strategy before it has a chance to soar and spread ancillary wings. Let’s say you come in. Restaff your squad. Hunt for a new agency. Hire the new agency. Go through the creative process. Get the campaign going and then, guess what? You’re donezo. Patience is a virtue. Get some.

2. Don’t rely on your stinkin’ pitch consultants… If you bothered to perform some due diligence and educate yourself on what type of agency should be in your review, you might just get a shop that is qualified to do the job. That’s better than ending up with an agency that has zero idea about your target market, no? Plus – you’d save yourself thousands of dollars on outside consultants who often, just phone it in anyways. It’s all about your bottom line, right? Then why aren’t you watching it every step of the way?

3. Don’t assume your staff is serving you well… Sometimes you, Mr./Ms. CMO, are not the problem. Sometimes it’s your ass-watching subordinates. These lemmings often see work long before you do. They spend hours filtering and watering it down to the point of meaninglessness. Find some time to look at the advertising at each step of the way or, you know, get some competent underlings.

4. Don’t fight your own campaign… When the agency says, “You should really think about changing your shipping policies. This would make a huge difference with this online sales campaign. The research shows that shipping is one of your biggest complaints.” Um… listen to them? They aren’t just trying to make life difficult for you. They are trying to make you money. Remember? That’s what you hired them for.

5. Don’t forget which agency is which…” Dudes… public relations and advertising? These two things are not one in the same. Do not waste your advertising agency’s time with things that your PR company should be handling. “I want to be in Elle magazine! What’s your strategy?” That said, it might be nice if you made the agencies hold hands and work in tandem. Don’t think dividing in conquering is serving you any good, when in fact, it’s killing you. Very, very slowly.

6. Don’t blow your wad… Speaking of media, if you have a million dollar media budget, don’t spend it all on airing commercials during reruns of Facts Of Life on Nick At Nite. Yeah, so what? You lurved that show when you were kid. Sure, you want to point to the TV and be like, “I did that,” while you pound martini’s with your CMO buddies. A million dollars is chump chain, kiddo. Do what the brand needs. Not what your ego craves.

7. Don’t act like you are the lord and master of all knowledge… Cause you’re not. Trust that you hired an agency that knows what they are talking about. For example: when you decide to argue about the agency’s SEO strategy, it’s abundantly clear to all of us in the room that you have zero understanding of the term, much less the ability to outline a plan. Jesus! You’re wasting everyone’s time and your money with your masturbatory debate style.

8. Don’t dream think we are miracle workers… Advertising agencies cannot fix your brand. If your company makes something that is fabulously craptastic or makes kids autistic, it might be just slightly unreasonable to think an agency could fix your brand. Listen to Oprah when she says, “Change comes from the inside.” The inside, my friend.

9. Don’t be a wuss… You are going to be in this gig for a year and a half. Take a chance. Whether it is in how you pay the agency or through experimentation with new channels. Sure, you’re the red-headed step child of the boardroom, but you don’t have to be. Be the big brother, quarterback who throws long during the final seconds of the homecoming game to win state. . Be fearless.

10. Don’t forget that sometimes you’re too close…” Remember when Luke Skywalker was all gobsmacked, because Yoda pulled the X-Wing out of the swamp? He was said: “I can’t believe it.” And Yoda, was all like, “That is why you fail.” Sometimes, you need to suspend your belief that you know what’s best for the brand. You’re so close to it, that perhaps, it has become nothing but a blurry image, a blurry brand. Fresh eyes, creative, outside ideas? They might be just what the consumer and your bottom line needs. Believe.

More: The DON’Ts Of Advertising Agencies: The Black Folk Edition