Joseph George, Chief Executive Officer at Lowe Lintas & Partners, popularly known as Joe, shares 25 tips for clients and agencies as he completes 25 years in advertising, and 23 years at Lowe Lintas and Partners.
George who joined Lowe Lintas and Partners in 1991 spent the first two years of his career on the Proctor laundry business at Leo Burnett. With over two decades at the agency George who took on the mantle of CEO in 2010 from his predecessor Charles Cadell, believes that a ‘constructive dissatisfaction’ keeps the core team at Lowe going each day with a positive restlessness to do better each day.
As he completes a quarter century in the advertising business leveraging vast hands on experience living the nuances of client – agency relationships day after day over the years ( the good the bad and ‘the different’) George shares his tips for clients and agencies in his characteristic style laced with a touch of humour.
1. Complete internal alignment before briefing your agency.
2. Demonstrate absolute clarity and conviction on the brief. Else, the honesty and guts to admit the absence of one; because when your agency is subjected to multiple rounds of work, they know what is going on.
3. Respect your agency’s structure and internal process. Don’t trip it because you know how to “get work out”.
4. Only he who briefs should approve. Briefing is too important to delegate or use for on-the-job training. And the approval process cannot be a guided tour for your agency of your organizational structure.
5. The agency is not in the fire engine business; please plan out timelines in advance in consultation with them.
6. Be firm and demanding but polite and respectful.
7. Extract most for least from your agency, but be fair and open to logic. Especially your procurement guy.
8. Don’t drag the agency into your politics. Don’t feast on their politics either.
9. Agencies want to be your friends. Don’t suspect this inexplicable need of theirs. If you reciprocate, they can surprise you with how joyfully they can go beyond 9 to 6.
10. Agencies pine for acknowledgement. When something goes well, take them out. ROI is unfailingly disproportionate.
11. Most agency folks care about your brands. They really do. There is nothing more gutting than their output going unnoticed and being ineffective. Let them know that you know that.
12. Running a pitch process is serious business. Do it with transparency and professionalism. And since most agencies pitch for free, with a bit of gratitude too.
13. Clients genuinely think that agency remuneration is more than fair. It is entirely and only upon you to prove to him that it is not. Every day.
14. Spend more time bettering your creative product. Not the client’s brief.
15. You aren’t fooling anybody by seeking clarifications on the brief from your client a day before the agency revert, not even if it is creative who are seeking those clarifications.
16. There is no empirical evidence to prove that outnumbering the client 5 to 1 at meetings results in them buying your work.
17. Clients are not under contractual obligation to not buy good work. Credit them with a bit more sense.
18. Avoid irrelevant outrage - being called a vendor is no less impersonal and demeaning than calling a client…a client.
19. When a client calls more than three agencies for a pitch, be suspicious, very suspicious. About everything.
20. Clients magically come to know who is doing what at the agency. Don’t hog or prop.
21. No, it is not because you are passionate that you want to re-think and re-work what the client loved and approved. Get all internal inputs and approvals before you take work to the client.
22. Clients need time to think before they can respond to an idea. 10 pairs of impatient and judging eyes staring at him barely five nano seconds after the presentation, is not fair to him or the process.
23. Clients need you. They really do. Sometimes they will show it, sometimes they won’t. Don’t make that your life’s only pursuit.
24. Don’t jostle and compete with your colleagues to be the client’s saviour. It makes for rude and sarcastic but funny conversations at their water cooler.
25. It is his money, his neck on the line and his brand. Do not pretend otherwise.