How to make reviews better, not just shorter

I like what Subway did in bypassing a formal review [“When a Pitch Is Not a Pitch,” A&C, Aug. 23]. But the issue is not only how to make reviews shorter. It’s how to make them better. A few suggestions:

1. Stop asking for reels. Ask only for the agency’s best commercial and why they think it is the best. This would help you get a feel for how they think.

2. Stop asking for case studies. Who cares if the agency has experience in the wooly-shoelace category? If you put them on the list, you already assume they are smart. Brains are not category specific. Besides, have you ever seen a case study with bad business results? Instead, ask about a recent failure. Failures are much more interesting than successes because people usually learn more from failing. Have them tell you why an idea or a relationship didn’t work and what they learned from it.

3. Ask why they’re interested in your business. Unless you’re a non-profit, eliminate all who do not say “revenue.” If your agency is in business for reasons other than yours —to make a profit—watch out.

4. Don’t ask for references. Do your own legwork. Clients who fired an agency or people who work there are good sources. They may not be objective, but even their subjectivity may offer some insight.

5. Put the consultants on an incentive plan. The longer the relationship lasts, the more money they make.

Avi Dan
Managing partner/ director of new business
Berlin Cameron/Red Cell
New York

For the Record: On the People page in the Aug. 9 issue, the man in the second photo is Mark Earls, executive planning director at Ogilvy & Mather, not David Lamb, worldwide director of account planning at J. Walter Thompson.

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