Need for cultural overlap critical in agency-client relationship say experts

The relationship between agencies and clients is a mix bag of emotions. From camaraderie to conflict, the client-agency equation is as complex as it can ever become.


To decode this relationship between agencies and clients a panel discussion on the subject- ‘What do Clients want from their Agencies’ was held on the sidelines of the recently held 10 anniversary of Event and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA). The panelists included Samar Singh Sheikhawat, VP-Marketing, United Breweries, Lydia Buthello, Head- Brand Experience and Events, Star Network and Poonam Kaul, Vice President Communications, PepsiCo India. Yamini Singh, Executive Editor, Everything Experiential and BW Applause moderated the session.

Speaking about the most important facets of the agency-client equation, Samar Singh Sheikhawat said, “For me it is important that my agency understands my business. Very often creative agencies, consultants and clients are living in ivory towers and thinking that consumers are exactly the people we imagine. The fact is totally the opposite of this perception. The point is that agencies need to understand the business well, this is most important as rest of the things can be learnt over a period of time.”

For Poonam Kaul of Pepsico, the involvement of agency in the conceptualization of a new campaign is critical for the success and effectiveness of the campaign. “I think that is super important. The more ideas come to the table the better it is and there are chances that the best idea will win. If you decide on the campaign and on the idea and then tell the agency to execute it, it will not be as effective and coordinated. Though we often don’t get to do that but this is the right approach to adopt”, stated Kaul.

Underling the important role that experiential marketing plays for customer reach out, Singh added, “Experiential is very critical part of our consumer outreach. We may have the creative and the research agency, the events and the media planning agency, but not for every meeting and for every time. Also it is very important to distinguish between what is important and what is urgent.”

The panelists also spoke about the need for a cultural overlap between agencies and clients for better coordination and for maintaining a long lasting agency-client relationship. Sharing her thoughts on it, Lydia Buthello of Star India stated, “It is critical for agencies and clients to have a cultural overlap in order to make the process of project execution easier and efficient. I believe every orgaisation has its distinct culture and you need to fit in that culture as an agency”.

Chiming the same tune all panelists expressed that a holistic and specific understanding of the clients objectives will take the agency a long way in the relationship. Being trustworthy and reliable was another key factor encouraging clients to stick to a particular agency.

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