Restoring Agency-Client Relationships: How Can Agencies and Advertisers Re-engineer to Restore Health and Success to Their Strategic Relationships?

Agency-client relationships have been compromised, over many years, by a series of related and non-related issues. This is particularly serious in light of the slowdown in advertiser brand growth and sales since 2008. Weak revenue growth has forced advertisers to focus on cost management, with many dysfunctional outcomes for advertisers and agencies alike.

Advertisers have compromised relationships by failing to pay agencies for documented Scopes of Work and, instead, paying them for an arbitrary number of agency man-hours. Advertisers have further compromised their relationships by cutting fees while allowing the growth of Scopes of Work. This has forced agencies to downsize in the face of growing workloads.

Agencies have compromised their relationships by eroding their capabilities, year after year, downsizing to grow margins. Agencies have further compromised their relationships by failing to integrate across media, and leaving the door open for advertisers to seek “best in class” agencies across media disciplines. This has destroyed the concept of AOR relationships and reduced the influence of agency strategic thinking.

On July 19 join Michael Farmer to learn how agencies and clients can re-engineer their relationships and focus on restoring brand growth.

Key takeaways:

  • The concept of client-agency relationships needs to be redefined – from “vendorship” to “strategic.” A relationship “mission statement” will be defined and outlined.
  • Scope of Work documentation and measurement is critical to upgrade relationships. A template for SOWs will be shown and described.
  • “Pay-by-deliverable” instead of “pay for hours” is required to refocus remuneration discussions. A detailed approach will be presented.

Who should attend:

Agency Account Leads; Account Executives; Project Managers; CFOs; Agency C-Suite including Procurement; Brand Executives; Indirect Procurement Executives.

About Michael Farmer:

Michael Farmer is Chairman of Farmer & Company LLC and TrinityP3 USA, strategy consulting firms for agencies and advertisers, respectively. He also serves as Professor of Branding and Integrated Communications at The City College of New York (CCNY).

Farmer is the author of the award-winning book Madison Avenue Manslaughter: an inside view of fee-cutting clients, profit-hungry owners and declining ad agencies. He has written a weekly column on client-agency issues for and is now working on a new book about the makeover of the industry.

Michael Farmer is a former Director of Bain & Company. He is a graduate of Harvard Business School, where he was awarded an MBA degree with highest honors, and received his AB degree at Princeton University.