There’s much to learn from creative agencies for in-house comms people. Working through the tough times, the tiffs and the pressures of business and still delivering outstanding work takes some doing. Here’s some insight from one of the best agencies around as they celebrate 25-years together.
by comms2point0 panel writer Rich Elwell.
They said it wouldn't last and you'd certainly get less for murder...
However, in an era where agency relationships seem to have a shorter life than a reality TV star's wedding, at least some pairings are still going strong with no sign of an acrimonious split.
I'm very proud to say that 2016 marks 25 years of Jon Harrison and I working together.
What started as a hurriedly put together experiment at college ahead of a London agency visit has stood the test of time - with no haggling over who gets the sofa or blender.
So here we are, a quarter of a century on, still sat opposite each other, partitioned only by the obligatory creative detritus of sign pens, half used layout pads and coffee tainted post it notes.
We pre-date the internet, downloads, smart phones and every social media platform going. CD’s were becoming all the rage back in '91 but vinyl was still dominant. The Vauxhall Vectra was the popular car of choice. Color Me Badd and Bryan Adams graced the 'charts'. Spender and Big Break were on the telly (ask your mom and dad - I'm tired of explaining).
We have always and still do hold strong opinions, aren't afraid to express them and in many ways, are different people (I'm glad to say I'm still the charming one).
Yes there's been bickering, numerous strops and even a few handbags and crockery thrown in anger but that's all part of the fun of it. From junior creative team on numerous placements to owners of our own agency with internationally renowned client names, the journey has been a fantastic one because ours is a fantastic sector to work in.
And what is the smug secret of such longstanding harmony? Tolerance, respect, trust, the ability to laugh during the tough times - nothing new there you'd counter, and you'd be right.
What working with someone for so long has done though is help us develop long standing relationships with our clients (none as long as 25 years yet but who knows?).
Within our own agencies (One Black Bear and Shadow Giants), numerous client relationships top 5 years. A couple are heading for 10 and one goes all the way back to 1994 when we first moved to Birmingham. So is this just a happy accident or coincidence?. Can't be. We believe that the longer and stronger the relationship, the better the work. The beauty of this business is that every day throws up another exciting challenge for a business in a sector we’ve never actually worked in. The longer you have to get under the skin and understand the brand and its audiences, the better. We’ve written advertising strategies for virtually every sector you can think of and deployed the creative thinking across every channel.
Seems the key values and ambitions that have kept Jon and I working together for so long only serve to cement the commercial relationships that earn us a living. We pride ourselves on being there for people and going way beyond the 'master and servant' or 'supplier' like tag so often attributed to agencies. Of course, we still get excited about new relationships and their challenges and hope that the people we’ve met and the clients we’ve picked up so far this year will still be with us in 25 years.
In short, we can be counted on.
Clients call us Ant and Dec (who's who varies client to client) and if we can carry on pleasing clients like that uber-talented pair please TV audiences, we ain't doing half bad.
Their innate ability to earn large sums from introducing dancing dogs may prove more difficult to replicate however.