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Agency Client Relationships: What Makes Them Work, From The Marketer’s Mouth

Posted on May 9, 2013

Ad Age’s Agency Issue came out recently with an interesting piece about Agency Client Relationships called “The Best Agency-Client Marriages.”

Retention is that sacred cow for agencies and I don’t have to tell any of you reading, a lot can get in the way of that relationship from both the agency and client side.

The article is separated over three separate stories on the web (links below for a full read) so thought I would give you a collective look at the reasons Marketers give for the longevity of these iconic brands and their long-term agencies.

Some may be lip-service, but this is about longevity, so somewhere within lies a mix of great agencies and clients willing to commit, who understand what it takes to maintain the relationship:

Agency-Client Relationships: What Makes Them Work, From The Marketer’s Mouth

BDO Minneapolis & Hormel: From Spam to Dinty Moore stew to Jennie-O turkey, BBDO has serviced every Hormel brand since 1930. Over 83 years, this pair’s secret to success is commitment and near-constant communication.

As in any relationship, issues do arise.

But over the decades, Hormel has focused on working through them, rather than launching a knee-jerk agency review.

“When a client fires an agency, [they] lose all of the good people along with the few that have disappointed him,” former Hormel CEO Joel Johnson, who retired in 2006, said in the company’s submission to Ad Age. “It’s smarter, and more fair, to deal with the problem than to terminate the entire agency.”

agency client relationships

Publicis Kaplan Thaler and P&G’s Charmin:  In its submission to Ad Age’s agency-client marriage contest, Charmin said it’s taken joy in the toilet talk “day after day, year after year, for over 50 years.”

“There are no barriers,” said the agency. “No awkward formalities.

Nothing’s off limits. . .Said Charmin: “This longstanding partnership centered around a dedication to creating a more enjoyable “go’ has enabled us to build a brand that has sold more toilet paper than anyone else, has weathered economic ups and downs, entry and exits of competitors, and welcomed new team members all while having a great time together.

Haworth & Target: “Haworth has a knack for putting Target at the heart of pop-culture moments that fuel talk value.”

DDB Chicago & Morton Salt: “While the agency teams and ideas have certainly evolved over time, DDB’s values and approach have remained consistent.”

Doe Anderson & Maker’s Mark: “What we didn’t bargain for was an equally passionate marketing partner in Doe Anderson.”. . And although it wasn’t always easy — the team weathered backlash from the brand’s temporary decision to lower the whiskey’s proof this year — the trials have only tightened the bond.

Saatchi & Saatchi & Tide: Over the past 50 years, that relationship has evolved into a partnership with ambitious goals.

There was the disaster-relief program “Tide Loads of Hope” in 2005 in response to Hurricane Katrina, the Super Bowl hit known as the “Talking Stain” and the creation of Tide Pods, one of the biggest laundry innovations in decades.

Campbell Mithun & Land O’Lakes: When Land O’Lakes diversified from its legacy product lines of butter, milk and cheese into margarine in the 1970s, Campbell Mithun played a key role in shaping strategy.

That’s continued with the development of flavored-butter blends and new cheese products.

Said the company: “We can count on the creative talent and breakthrough thinking of Campbell Mithun to deliver.”

Marc USA AND Rite Aid: The shop’s knowledge of the business has made it a powerful resource. As a result it’s responsible for driving everything from store design to employee training to internal communications.

Doner & Bush Brothers: The “Jay and Duke” campaign consistently scores in ASI’s top 10. Consumers remain curious about whether or not Duke will keep the “Secret Family Recipe” secret. “We believe that continuity, consistency and commitment yield a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace,” Bush Brothers said.

Links:

BBDO, Minneapolis, and Hormel Win Gold in Ad Age’s Best Agency-Client Marriages Contest

Publicis Kaplan Thaler and P&G’s Charmin Take Silver in Ad Age’s Best Agency-Client Marriages Contest

Seven Strong Unions Earn Honorable Mention in Ad Age’s Agency-Client Marriages Contest

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As Director of Business Development at RSW/US, Lee brings new agency clients on board and handles marketing and social media for RSW/US. You can find him on Google+ (https://plus.google.com/+LeeMcKnightJr/) or Twitter (@leemcknightjr).

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