Working with your agency or client


I refer to Ben Skelsey’s article at The Wall regarding his entry of “Clients are our friends, and friends deserve better”. In this article, he talks about how creative agencies should properly treat their clients and eventually work as partners and gain the most out of this mutual working relationship. In his opinion, he believes that agencies must ‘wake up’ and stop behaving like the zenith of the creative world. By now, most agencies have already evolved and has developed stronger ties and working relationship with clients. I personally find his article being rather obsolete and does not reflect much truth in creative agencies these days. On the other hand, I always find this an amusing example to talk about – “If you were to visit a doctor, would you negotiate or second his medical opinion just like how you would question your creative agency’s expertise?” Think again.

After reading through his article, I have to say Ben really need to deserve better. Agencies hires the right people for the right job and of course people who would value add even more. Some of the important factors to build a great relationship between agency and clients requires respect, understanding and trust. Here are some of the points to note:

1. Respect
Clients sometimes tend to believe that the agency basically skives off work on booze (MAD man and his early morning Scotch) and awesome evening parties. So they never take the agency seriously. Clients also pretty much have the belief that agency starts rather late and off work rather early. Of course, this mentality can’t be helped if calls were often not picked up or emails not replied to. But you really must know, agencies actually start really early and work normally ends very late. The amount of 8.30am meetings can be quite packed on the schedules and starting work only at 4.30pm in the afternoon is not abnormal. Agencies worked hard to strive for the best results for clients and so does the clients. As agencies respect clients for their knowledge and authority in their own products and services, they expect the same amount of professionalism being given back to them.


2. Understanding
I guess it is about time that creatives learn to understand the fundamental part of the business – We are a service oriented business. We provide a service and it wouldn’t be nice to treat your clients rudely or provide them with a lousy service. I have seen creatives debating with the clients during filming on set as well as during meetings and presentations. My principle is not to win every single debate and lose the entire project. Look at the big picture and understand that you want to get your big idea out there to the world. Changing some words in the copy or the colors on the type would not affect the world. People most likely won’t remember those minute details but would definitely kept that idea of yours vividly in their minds. And that is really good enough. Take a step back and go to a meeting with the mentality that you just ‘might be wrong’. Take down what the client said and go through those points in your head. It might just place an underpinning evidence that would help you in your argument later.

Agency must learn to maintain a professional attitude regardless if they have invested lots of time for the pitch and end up not winning it. Learn from the mistakes and gain the experience from it. The most important thing is not to be sore and understand the situation. Therefore, I must emphasize again, being understanding is the first and foremost step to establish great chemistry with clients.


3. Trust
How many times have you heard clients saying “I trust that you will do a good job and we will give you exactly the advertising dollars you need.” Well, at least for me, I haven’t heard much if not none at all! It is highly impossible that your client would place this high amount of trust in you unless of course, agencies has proved their working capability through the great amounts of quality work. The kind of work that comes out from the agency determines their reputation and more often or not, creatives stood by their work with extreme pride, ensuring only good creative work gets out. Clients must learn to trust that no one wants to be recognize for doing crap work. If clients think that the work done hasn’t really much justifies the brief, then I would say always question the outcome of the work before jumping into the conclusion that the agency has once again fail your expectations. Sometimes, all we need is clarification and a little bit of patience to nail the brief. We are humans after all, and it always takes time and practice to be perfect. I understand that time is of essence especially when it comes to tight deadlines, but good quality work is timeless. Hence, good working relationships and quality work boils down to the mutual trust in one another to believe that we are good enough for our jobs.


What I have said is just some brief notes about working together effectively between clients and agencies. There is a lot more to be said and could have been done. The world is changing everyday and the challenges that we have to tackle is constant. As relationships gets tighter, challenges gets easier. In a nutshell, great relationships brings about good work. So learn to establish trust, respect and understanding with your client or agency.

Here we go!



We see creative work being done all over the world each day with more and more zany ideas coupled with great innovations and technology. How about some really cool outdoor action purely based on an activation stunt? The Bank of Garanti in Turkey has just displayed their take for great creative work with this amazing outdoor stunt. They got a really cool events company, Ikarus Events to launch this campaign. What they did was to eventually fly a solo glider up and rain mini packages of soft cute toys across the city. Daring approach I must say. As much as I can see how the outcome would be, I personally love the way they push the message across. It almost seem like an air ambush but done in the name of fun! As you look up in puzzlement and wonder hard, you then slowly make up of what it is and instantly people rushed towards the free stuffed animals. As the adage goes, seeing is believing.

Creative challenges for Integrated Marketing


I refer to an article published on Econsultany blog regarding The 7 Challenges to Integrated Marketing and would like to share my perspective from the angle of a creative. The article mentions 7 important aspects that would primarily pose as a challenge for most companies seeking to create integrated marketing solutions to tackle their business objectives. Below is a list of the 7 challenges that were mentioned.
1. Management Support and Resources
2. Cross-Media Creativity
3. Unifying Technology
4. Strategy
5. Unifying/Sharing Customer Dara
6. International Issues
7. Unifying/Sharing Brand Assets

These are very promising points that are worthy note for every marketer. I would like to talk about them with regards to how creatives should take these points into consideration before they plunged into the thought process of coming out with the ‘Big Idea’.

Management Support and Resources

Ok, you get all too excited when you are handed a brief from traffic telling you, ‘we have got a big one coming’. So you and your partner sits down and eagerly flipping through the creative brief. It could be an excellent client whose appetite for creativity has always been avant garde. So you guys decided to give it your best shot.

The reality is for most companies, marketing is labelled as cost centers and fighting for additional support has always been difficult. A lot of marketers find it extremely challenging to manage between fulfilling their marketing objectives with creatives by working on pathetic marketing budgets. It is perhaps this reason why many times you come up with a really good and innovative idea that also leverages on great technologies, only to get rejection from the client. You probably heard enough of statements or remarks like, “Sure, this sounds cool. You must know we could keep that for next year. Ya?”

Cross-media Creativity

Putting aside the possible problems that harass or disrupts good creative work like data management, process and politics, it is true as the article describes – it is the ultimate goal for most companies and creative agencies to engage and inspire the consumers with the RIGHT ideas and images.

Digital has advanced so much and outweighed simple print ads or mundane marketing campaigns that once worked so well. However, for most companies, old habits die hard. I have worked with quite a number of companies who insisted on using their form of media and are stubborn to adopt new media trends. Bear in mind that the reluctance to try is your first step in creating crappy work. Looking at what other companies had done and doing a fair comparison is alright but not necessary the solution. Different companies adopt different creative practices and media that would best suit their company and product nature.

Understanding how different media would benefit the product and how it would all work out together to provide that one ultimate experience is the key to creating good work. Using a good creative rationale and excellent media strategy would prove to give your clients better ROI. Creatives who embrace these, tend to have better success convincing their clients to buy their idea. After all, if you are going to spend top dollar for your advertising, might as well make every dollar worth it.

Making sure every idea is authentic, unique and holistic is vital when launching integrated marketing campaigns. You want your idea to appeal to the correct audience and garner the correct attention by being there for them at the right time.

Unifying technology

This is undoubtedly one of the most crucial point to note. Technology is the ultimate quotient to your marketing campaigns. You need to identify the right technology out there that would best be utilized for your campaigns. As creatives tend to overlook the importance of keeping up with technology trends, they often get too focus on coming out with an original idea. An original idea is by itself a merit, a success or possibly a driven formula. However, to polish it to become the ultimate idea, it has to be well considered and prepared to be executed alongside innovative technologies. Do not forget that a large number of people are smartphone users, commuters that travel past interactive screens, tablet users and social addicts. You want your original idea to become an ultimate idea which has taken all these media into consideration, at the same time leveraging on the new emerging technologies that follows suit. Remember, knowing good technology would allow you to leverage on the right tools from the start of your campaign to the end of it. Archiving data and results is also one of the key to a successful campaign.


I have been to several meetings and believe it or not, many clients I have met had absolutely no idea what their briefs are asking for. Their briefs are the products of an unconvincing marketing strategy. As creatives, we tend to ask ourselves, “If we cannot convince ourselves that the product could sell, how can we then acknowledged the fact we had come out with a good idea?” As bogus as it seems, many times this is what we get – A ‘crappy’ brief that sends the team working on the job looking like headless chickens. Come to think about it, a good strategy would really help to define a lot of variables on a creative brief. Some of the common questions that were thrown out during brainstorming sessions within agency could be:

“What is the client’s marketing message?”
“The nature of the product does not seem to tally with the brand’s voice.”
“What is the purpose of having this campaign?”
“Is it necessary to adopt a mobile/digital approach for such a campaign?”

And the list goes on. You cant imagine how incredible it would be if you were handed a brief without much thought on the marketing strategy. The worse has yet to unfold.

Unifying/Sharing Customer Data

As creatives, it is important that we are given enough research data and materials. It is also a chore to collate and make sense data that is provided which are in bits and pieces. However, as troublesome as this may sound, it is vital that we do not skip this step. I remember working on an automobile client’s brief and the team had a good time coming out with really solid ideas and eventually executing the artworks. Everything was turning out great until we realize what we were doing had already been done 2 years ago. The work produced 2 years ago was published on some obscure sources which was easily neglected and slip through our eyes as we were pretty complacent. A mistake that cost us our weekends eventually, where we rectify the problem with another set of creative ideas.

International Issues

I believe many times this has costed the downfall of interesting ideas. Not all ideas are so versatile that it could be adapted to every country. In some countries, they might be receptive to the use of certain media while in others they might view it as a taboo. A lot of times, work done for bigger corporations tend to be on the safer side and this compromises creative work. The challenge here is to balance that and still come out with great ideas. Remember, a great integrated campaign makes use of several media touch points. Use these medias and their nature to your advantage. This could help in the development of better ideas that would possibly be well executed in the respective country.

Unifying/Sharing Brand Assets

Having worked on several MNC accounts, I have to say that asset handling is extremely important. Every creative must take note that the work we produced are given to the marketing team and further dissected into their respective departments. As technology and trends progress, we must take note that the work we produced is to be adaptable within different marketing departments. A long designed banner might need to rescale when it is placed on a social media platform like facebook. An interesting guerrilla idea done OOH(out of home) might not be adaptable for print media and would find it challenging to embed the brand’s mandatory assets like logos or brand messages on it. Important care must be taken to ensure brand assets are well take care of so it does not disrupts the experience from the integrated marketing campaigns.

These are my views from the perspective of a creative looking at the potential challenges that we face time to time from clients seeking to achieve great integrated marketing campaigns. Please share your views with me and exchange some pointers.