Clients Share Agency Perspectives at DAL

DALLAS Four local clients discussed the good and bad points about their agency relationships at a Dallas Ad League luncheon today.

On the panel were Kristin Clark, senior manager of media and market planning at Brinks Home Security; Lisa Alexander, group manager, marketing communications at Verizon Information Services; Eric Studer, senior vice president of marketing at Accor North America; and John Padwick, director of hotel marketing at Wyndham Hotels.

Brinks, which relies largely on direct response, works with Wunderman in New York and Draft in Chicago. Wyndham works with Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners in New York, Slingshot in Dallas and Range Online Media in Fort Worth, Texas. Verizon also works with Kirshenbaum and with Zenith Media in New York. Accor works with The Richards Group in Dallas.

The panelists outlined key attributes they want to see from agencies. Alexander said the agency must be integrated. “Is a creative person working from a media perspective? We want every discipline to be equally strong,” she said.

Padwick said agencies often think a brand campaign is all they need, but said that thinking “isn’t going to get a head in a bed.” Rather, he said, shops need to understand the hotel chain’s business.

The panelists offered agencies a number of suggestions for getting new business. Alexander said agencies should scan the competition to see how they can differentiate themselves. Clark said shops should not be afraid to introduce the people that would be working on their accounts during the finals of a review. “If you feel good about those people, we want to see those people,” she said.

Studer said agencies must be careful about taking full credit for work that was shared with other shops. Eight shops took credit for the “Got milk?” campaign once, he said. “Claiming work or if work overlaps leaves the client confused,” he said.

Discussing agency compensation, Studer said he prefers to pay Richards on a fee basis. “I think it’s fair and makes clients define what they want,” he said. “We ask Richards to do a lot, they act as a full-service agency, and the agency has to put the client on the spot and there has to be a penalty if [the client] keeps changing its mind.”

On the topic of why clients would drop their agencies, Alexander said the top reason would be if a shop were unethical. “That’s the only thing that’s unforgivable,” she said, saying padding timesheets or covering up innocent mistakes fall into that category. Studer said when agencies stop listening, it’s time to move on.

Lastly, the clients encouraged small agencies to solicit advertisers. Padwick appreciates the fast turnaround many small agencies can provide; Alexander called on clients to be more aware of small shops that many times are “cheaper, quicker, better and smart.” Studer urged small shops to use their size to their advantage. “A lot of projects don’t make sense for bigger agencies,” he said.