Seattle full-service agency Wexley School for Girls is turning the RFI and RFP process on its head, or, in their words, “reversing the traditional RFI and RFP process in which brands look for agencies to handle their advertising via a complex and costly rigmarole of vetting, chemistry checks and basically pitting agencies against one another to compete for an account.” Today the agency has issued the first-ever Reverse Request for Information or RRFI, calling on brands to become the agency’s next client, tapping New York search consultancy Madam to help in the process.
“We believe it’s as important for the agency to choose its next clients as carefully and rigorously as a client chooses its next agency,” reads the RRFI. “We are looking for a client that is respectful, fun to be around and one that enjoys partnering with their agency not dictating to them… We see ourselves as an asset not a vendor. And we see clients as partners not clients,” the Wexley’s RRFI goes on. Applicants are asked to define their brand and where they want to take it in 2-3 years, what brands they admire, their marketing budget, their true “risk tolerance” for creativity, their proudest moment, a definition of their ideal relationship with an advertising agency, and “Would you rather ride 1 horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?” — you know, all the tough questions.
“Today’s more interactive and collaborative way of working between agency and client makes it more critical than ever to get the chemistry right,” explains Michael Lee, founder of Madam. “The agency has to feel good about the relationship beyond an annual fee. It has every right to only want to work with clients it wants to work with. Wexley and Madam both believe there is a better, more innovative, more creative approach to agency client relationships, because the way both now work together demands it.”