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

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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Marketing's Meeting of the Waters

ClickZ, 1/31/11

One of the most unusual sights and impressive natural phenomenon’s in South America is the junction of the Amazon River and its Rio Negro tributary, also known as the “meeting of waters.” The two rivers, the coffee-colored Amazon and the inky Rio Negro, actually do not merge immediately upon meeting due to the fact that they are flowing at different speeds, temperatures, and densities; rather, they co-exist side by side in the same riverbed for nearly four miles before finally merging and becoming one river that has taken on elements of both rivers.

This phenomenon is a good analogy for what’s happening in marketing today, where traditional media and marketing practices are meeting their new digital marketing counterparts (Web, e-mail, and social media), with mobile marketing being the catalyst that is bringing them together. And, like the Amazon and Rio Negro at their initial juncture, digital and traditional marketing domains have met, but haven’t yet immediately merged since they are clearly and fundamentally different. For example:

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