June 28, 2010
I recently spoke with the Cannes Creative Leadership Program group at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, and shared what I have learned over the years about leadership in client/agency relationships. Here are my “8 Tips” to inspire agencies to do their best work on your brands:
1. It’s about the people we serve, consumers, not us.
Know your business and your consumer, and hold everyone on the brand team, including your agencies, accountable for the same.
Embrace the consumer when and wherever s/he is receptive; including the store.
As a team, let the consumer guide all decisions and actions.
2. Create, or renew, a “brand ideal” for your brand that inspires your team.
Your “brand ideal should be rooted in the brand’s heritage, and it should represent a meaningful goal for the brand that inspires everyone to better serve consumers.
3. Be a “leader integrator.”
Get all of your agencies at the same table on a regular basis. Your brand will benefit from the synergy and creativity that happens when they collectively debate the future direction for your brand.
Own identification of decision makers for all activities, and be clear about who has authority.
4. Go for the “and.”
Set very high standards and accept no compromises. Your advertising must be persuasive and likeable, rationale and emotional, distinctive and relevant.
5. Build a relationship with your Creative people.
Learn to speak the language of creatives and embrace the creative brief. Be sure you and your leading creative are on the same page about what makes great advertising.
Create an environment where your brand team interacts more often and more collaboratively with your creative team.
6. Say “I do.”
A true agency partnership is a long-term commitment. Treat your agency as a real partner.
Get your agency team involved early and often in opportunities to influence and contribute to the brand strategy, brand direction, and brand equity.
Don’t be afraid to take risks, and own them jointly with the agency. The best advertising doesn’t result from “being safe.”
7. Open up.
Evaluate each other formally at least once a year. This will ensure the expectations on both sides are understood, and that we are holding ourselves accountable for delivering against them.
Deliver feedback with respect, honesty and candor. Receive it with an open mind and appreciation.
8. “Be the “magnet.”
Be personally responsible for creating a culture that attracts and inspires the world’s best creative talent within your agency. Make it part of your workplan.
Know the people on your business as individuals. Show appreciation for their commitment, passion, and tremendous effort, even when mistakes occur.