Why the Client-Agency Bond Just Isn't What It Used to Be

©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.

Ad Age, 2/14/11

Media Fragmentation, Time Constraints, Procurement Top Long List of Reasons Why Long-Term Relationships Are a Rarity Today, Insiders Say

One of Shelly Lazarus’ most vivid experiences in more than three decades in the ad business was the afternoon a young creative director strolled into her office, irate over a confusingly written instructional pamphlet client IBM had enclosed with a desktop computer.

“People were so caught up in thinking about what IBM stood for, but here was a flimsy piece of paper and [the creative director] was so involved,” Ms. Lazarus, chairman of WPP’s Ogilvy, said. “He cared. You can’t buy that.”

Like many of her contemporaries, Ms. Lazarus, who in the 1990s sold IBM on the notion that it didn’t require countless relationships with shops around the globe when it had an agency as dedicated to that company as hers, recalls clearly a time when the relationship between client and agency was sacred. But that time, for a long list of reasons, feels to be fading away.

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