The Power Struggle in the Agency/Client Paradigm

Agencies’ Fear of Client Disapproval Handcuffs Creativity

handcuffsYou’re just a few short hours from deadline.

Every tick on the clock is a jab at your creative confidence.

The client has already told you to simply use what works, don’t be too creative.

That offer becomes more and more tempting.

We’ve all been there.  The client knows what they want: safety.  But you, the advertising and marketing specialist, know what they need.  And we need to fight for that!

However, the “line-in-the-sand” between agency and client creative control is becoming less defined and turning into a morphed, unrecognizable blur because of today’s economic climate.  Agencies, in fear of losing clients and subsequent billings, are pushing the envelope less to ensure client approval.

We’re playing it safe.

Clients are in the same fear of losing business that agencies are.  They don’t want to scare off consumers with a new campaign, the same way that we don’t want to scare off clients with an extremely out-of-the-box idea.  So, often times, the client will be weary of change and will try to stick with the old, so that’s what we’ll give them.

When that happens, we are not only selling ourselves short . . . we are selling our clients short.  The client has hired your agency because they saw the creative intuition, marketing savvy, or media know-how that is going to push their brand/product/service to the next level of innovation and sales.

When we play it safe, we’re not giving our clients innovation, we’re giving them mediocrity.

We chose to be in advertisers and marketers because we are the early adopters and thought leaders.  We revolutionize ideas and shift paradigms, and when we settle into that “client-approved mediocrity,” we lose what makes us and our industry great.

So when you find yourself asking whether you should use that same headline, that old layout, that played-out tagline, remember why you’re here . . . as an individual and as an agency.  The client may tell you to go with what works, but they hired you because they need ‘innovative.’  Safety is the enemy–give them something great.  It will remind them why you’re here.

Stu Haack is a Copywriter & Social Media Guru at Aviatech.  He likes long walks on the beach and scary movies.  Learn more about him and his writing.