The 6 integrated client-agency set-ups

Client-agency relationships come in all shapes and sizes. Dave Lewis, the boss of Tesco recently appointed BBH for advertising and Mediacom for media on the basis that they served him well at Unilever and he has a good relationship with them. We’re seeing the results of these appointments in the campaigns for this supermarket this Christmas, featuring Ruth Jones and Ben Miller.

Earlier this year, Jaguar Land Rover announced that it was moving all Land Rover global creative advertising and social media work into Spark 44, an agency which it had created.

A study conducted by a company called R3 Worldwide, identified six models client-agency set-ups. Here’s a quick break-down on the models, along with our thoughts on pros and cons

  1. Multiple Best in Class – here, the client leads with the integration, selecting the best creative, media, PR, event agencies etc., to serve their needs, regardless of who owns them. This is the most common set up and the one that Dave Lewis has adopted. To work well, it requires a large marketing team and agencies that play nicely.
  2. Lead Agency Model – where the onus is on one lead agency to drive successful integration. P&G uses this model and this accounts for 25% of client-agency set-ups. This can mean tighter client-agency co-ordination and requires a lot of trust in that agency to drive strategy and delivery.
  3. Sibling Agency Model – where a client is engaged with a group or network and their sister agencies. This accounts for 20% of setups. This can be great for clients with small marketing teams, because there’s a single agency point of contact. But it can mean that the agencies may not be best in class.
  4. Holding Company Custom Agency – this works well for Apple, Ford and Colgate and looks like the direction that Jaguar Land Rover is heading towards with Spark44. This is where the client creates its own custom agency. Great for controlling the strategy and costs but can lead to challenges in findings and keeping the brightest talent and getting a fresh perspective on things.
  5. The Free Agent – where a roster of agencies pitch for each project. This set-up is used by Sony and can be great for delivery of tactical work. However, the lack of consistency may mean less strategic governance.
  6. One Stop Shop - less common in Europe, but more so in Japan, Korea and Brazil, where one agency does everything for that client.

 

The effectiveness of these models really depends on the individual challenges of the client. Throughout our careers, we've been part of many of these sets ups, and often, it's the big ideas that drive integration. But successful integration doesn't just come from the set-up or the idea, it’s investment into time.

For agencies, this means “walking the corridors”, and investing in time to build relationships with agency partners. For clients, this means thinking long term with all agency partners.

Unilever and JWT recently celebrated 110 years together. Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing officer credits long-term relationships as “part of our success”. If this teaches us anything, it’s that respect, trust and the ability to build and adapt relationships pays dividends.

If you’re interested in finding out more, check it R3 Worldwide’s study here.