Creative Output and Process-Driven Approaches Find Common Ground

May 13, 2013

ATLANTA — Jane Bedford, Founder and Principal of The Bedford Group, presented the “Art and Science of Agency Partner Management” at this year’s ANA Agency Financial Management Conference on Monday, May 6, 2013 in Scottsdale, AZ.

The Bedford Group, a marketing management consulting firm that was a pioneer in business consulting from a marketing perspective, added a thought-provoking session which highlighted the “yin and yang” of developing creative excellence without forgetting contributions that may be made by Procurement.

According to Bedford, businesses recognize the enormous benefits of investing in big ideas that can drive billions of dollars in improved brand performance and sales.  Noted were the contributions Chiat Day (now TBWA/Chiat Day) made to Steve Jobs’ breakout work with Apple, McCann’s work for MasterCard and 360i’s digital campaign within the Superbowl this year for Oreo. Corporations are willing to pay premiums for the big idea and yet spreadsheet analysis of the cost of producing such creativity may neutralize the contribution an agency partner may make.

To highlight the issues, The Bedford Group secured panelists who could bring a unique combination of insights across the value chain including Connie Mossop, Director of Global Commercial Strategic Sourcing of Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Joanne Fillion, Director of Creation – Images, Events and Lifestyle of Cirque du Soleil. “We knew we would be hearing a lot from Procurement professionals and Marketing professionals. We wanted to bring the two schools of thought together and find the unifying thread” Bedford said. “This is a role that we find ourselves playing frequently within our consulting practice.”

Each of the speakers provided their point-of-view on best practices for selecting and managing their agency partners.  Mossop, who was referred to as a “powerhouse of procurement” in social media during the session, emphasized the importance of having Procurement lead agency search and continue to be involved in setting agencies up for success over time. “Procurement has a bird’s eye view – we need to provide education for brands and be there for agencies to speak to. We need to be a safe place for them to come with their issues and let them know what is happening within the enterprise” she said.

Fillion of Cirque Du Soleil, one of the most creative entertainment companies in the world, spoke about the limited involvement that Procurement had when Cirque Du Soleil selected their agency of record and throughout their agency relationship. “Granted Procurement has its role, but emotions need to have a prominent role in the process of managing the brand. We cannot affix a dollar value to the ideas our partners present to us. We would not have grown the business so much if we had a price governor attached to every aspect of the partnership” she said. “Picasso, Disney and a host of leading creative agencies around the world must always be allowed room for spontaneity”, she urged.

Fillion presented even greater punctuation of her point in the announcement of her new role with the agency, Sid Lee, who she hired 12 years ago. “We believe so strongly in helping our agency succeed that we have now joined forces with Sid Lee in an entertainment venture which I now lead. We believe very strongly in co-collaboration and think this new enterprise will work well for both organizations,” she predicted.

“The combination of these two very different perspectives provided by the panelists to  conference attendees was welcome relief”, one attendee said. Yet, even with a unique view of the extremes on the continuum of agency relationship management models, Bedford and the panelists concluded there was room for agreement on four basic principles.  Those are:

  1. Partner vs Vendor Mentality: Never treat your agency “vendor” as anything other than a partner.
  2. Compensate Your Agency for Innovation: Make room for a “sandbox” in which both client and agency can create magic together.
  3. Measurement and Performance Evaluation: Make sure all parties agree on what is considered a “success” and reward teams for that contribution.
  4. Integration of “Ideas” Across the Enterprise: Ensure that everyone is on board from the CMO to IT to individual LOB’s.

The four day conference is considered one of the best places for Marketing Procurement and agency finance executives to connect in the world.  A recap of the other topics and learnings which ranged from in-house agency models to patent infringement legislation can be found here.

About The Bedford Group

The Bedford Group is an Atlanta based Marketing Management Consulting firm that has been in operation since 1986. It has built its reputation on marketing organization support, agency search and relationship management and strategic marketing consulting.  Unlike traditional advertising consultants, The Bedford Group looks beyond traditional marketing disciplines to solve complex, enterprise-wide issues for efficient resource management and improving marketing ROI.

Jane Bedford
(404) 237-7471