Hug your client day

Whether it was the pseudoephedrine or that the eclectic audience of well over 200 marketing and advertising types was bigger than her Ad Show audience on TVNZ7, Hazel Phillips, mistress of ceremonies at Thursday evening’s Marketing Association talkfest on agency-client relationships, belied her claim that she is not a comedienne.From turning Mike Cunnington, head of brands at ANZ National Bank, into Dr Cunning to comparing Jason Paris’ move from TVNZ to TV3 with Colonel Sanders taking KFC’s 11 secret herbs & spices to McDonald’s, the ad hoc NBR columnist proved to be funnier than the Gruen Transfer on steroids.

Hopefully the mixed audience of agencies and clients came away with a wider appreciation of the dynamics involved in achieving a successful business partnership. The over-riding message was that agency-client relationships are dynamic and need openness, trust and empathy.

JustONE managing director, Ben Goodale got the session off to an off-beat start by talking from inside a cardboard box, a metaphor for the need for clients to let their agencies into their most secret workings. Dr Cunning emphasised that working with agencies should be the highlight of the day for poor marketers…but so often it isn’t. Jane Eagles, general manager of AIM Proximity’s Auckland office, preceded “hug a Ginga day” with a YouTube download of Apple’s Steve Jobs verbal hug of Paul Rand, the graphic designer who created the iconic Apple logo. Jason Paris was introduced as CEO, TV3 and C4, although everyone knows he’s been gardening for a few months and doesn’t take up his new position until June.

Peter Davis, director of aprais NZ, flew in from Melbourne. With responsibility for helping to maximise client agency performance for over 50 clients in New Zealand, Australia and around the world, he deserved more time that the time-keeping bell-ringer would allow.

For those that could speed read his slides, there was a wealth of substantiated information around what is driving clients mad in creative and media relationships and vice versa. From the inability of agencies to create genuine strategies and insights that result in breakthrough creative ideas, to agencies being perceived as not cost-conscious enough, and from account management not adequately representing clients needs to the perceived lack of interest from agency’s senior management in client business, Davis had all the answers to make the subsequent panel discussion redundant.

That being said, the addition of some heavyweight marketers to a panel discussion, in the form of Kellie Nathan marketing director, Yellow; Wendy Rayner head of marketing, NZ Lotteries Commission; and Zoe Leech marketing manager NZ, Visa; along with Robert Limb managing director, RAPP NZ, made for some lively and insightful commentary.

With questions via text through an arrangement with TXT2GET, the audience should have headed for the bar with much to think about. Whether agency-client relationships actually improve as a result, remains to be seen.

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