Agency movements may have been as active as ever in the last few months. But with people moving in and out of different organisations, exchange4media takes a look at whether there really is a connection between the two.
After Anita Nayyar moved from Starcom to MPG, so did the Voltas account move out. Recently, IBN 7 dropped its account with Brand David after Josy Paul moved out. Most feel that such incidents are miniscule, and do not speak about larger implications in the industry.
Colvyn Harris, CEO, JWT, said that it depends on who the person is that is moving out. “It is not a norm, and I think it is very infrequent. It depends on the confidence level between the clients and the person to a large extent. Most of the time, it is smaller clients rather than big ones who move. Most large clients understand that it is the team and not the individual that is doing all the work. With smaller clients who don’t have a very large budget, they manage by building a relationship with just one or two people in the industry. It is in those cases that such things happen,” he said.
Harris added that they do have certain clauses in the contract that is applicable to the staff, in order to prevent poaching. “The clause speaks about anti-poaching ethics for taking people or their clients with them. This is mainly for senior level people. Technically, it is more of an issue in professionalism rather than a legal aspect. There is no action taken against someone who breaches this trust, but we do make it a point to mention it,” he said. However, Harris felt that there are very few things like these that do happen, and that it doesn’t really matter because it is too small a development most often.
Shashi Sinha, CEO, Lodestar Universal, said that it is more organisation-dependent and is not even such a big problem. He too felt that it is not the big ones, but the smaller clients that move for such reasons. “Finally, it is about whether you are selling an organisation on the basis of the institution or on the basis of individuals,” he said.
Anupriya Acharya, President, TME, said that she had seen various examples of these things. “This is something that has always been existent, and it is not a new phenomenon. There are small instances of it, though most accounts do not move because of such reasons. After all, it is a team that works on an account and not just one person. The reason that accounts move is mostly because of issues in comfort factors between a client and the agency. In our company, the way we are structured, in terms of thinking and delivering, does not depend on any single person, but it is about the entire agency. It is the TME way of thinking, rather than one person alone carrying on the show,” she said.
Manish Porwal, Managing Director, Starcom, agreed to a certain extent, but also felt that it occurs more with smaller accounts. “Part of the reason is because of the nature of the business. Advertising is a people-driven business. Sometimes, an un-evolved client or business needs individual attention, and that is when this takes place. It doesn’t usually happen with very large accounts, where the business is extremely process-driven and isn’t just a one-man show. Some of the other reasons for accounts moving are when the mindset does not align, and the agency has failed to live up to the expectation of the client. Often a pitch is called, and this gives a better choice to the client. What helps an agency to make sure this doesn’t happen is to make things more process-driven. Today, teams are taking over individuals,” he said.
According to Subhash Kamath, CEO, Bates David Enterprise, it is often a natural thing to happen. However, he clarified, “IBN did not quit Bates David because Josy quit. The reason was that Bates was working with Star, so there was a problem of direct competition. However, accounts and trust in the industry are never built on an individual.
Sometimes, one person leaving the organisation makes the relationship shaky, but relationships have to be built on an organisation-to-organisation basis.”
In certain cases where it is not fully professional, personal relations set the relationship, he felt. “Today, I think most clients have professional relations with agencies rather than personal ones. Advertising has a huge turnover of people. But the reasons why accounts move overall are for various reasons: dissatisfaction, staleness, no new creative ideas, and stagnation. Today communication is 360-degree, relationships also need to built at multiple levels for multiple needs,” Kamath added.
Prathap Suthan, National Creative Director, Grey Worldwide, said that he felt it isn’t right to assume that the entire team that worked on a particular account was redundant. However, in cases where accounts do move because of the exit of one person, it is because “there is an accumulated wisdom and experience that also moves out with the person, and then it makes sense for the client to move or follow the person as well”.
“This happens especially when the account is in an industry that needs to be quick on the draw and doesn’t have an eternity to bring new resources into the grind of its work. Secondly, comfort level and chemistry do play a role sometimes, despite best efforts from the rest of the team. Thirdly, it could be personal friendships and relationships at play,” he said.
“Since these are exceptional cases, most agencies don’t plan for such things. No one can,” Suthan added.