Recipe for Success – Chosing the Right partner


There are a few obvious pointers when choosing the right Communications partner, a bit like your friends you don’t always have to get along with them, but good chemistry does help. And choose carefully, because with the right choice you could be together a long time.


A good agency is like a good restaurant. Same quality control, attention to detail, desire to please.


There are front of house staff; maître d’hôtels, account executives, sommeliers, planners that must have the knowledge and skill to interpret what the customer wants or needs and well as explaining the plat du jour.


There are the back of house staff; the chefs du cabinets, art directors, copy strategists, artists and writers who create and deliver the vision, excellence and ideas.


There are the chefs de partie, managers, expediters, traffic and production teams who ensure that the right message and work gets delivered to the right table on time.


Supporting all are the supervisors, cashiers, accounts and receptionists required in any business to ensure smooth operation and accurate billing.


On top of that the suppliers – Butchers, Fruit and Veg merchants, the Media, Fishmongers, Production Companies, Wine Merchants, Contractors, etc. – are equally important to ensure that all the ingredients are of the finest quality and in season.


All must play their part. Good food or Creativity will compensate for bad service, but consistently bad food or Creativity will never be overcome by great service, weakness in one area will impact on another and detract from the overall experience. Just as you can tell how passionate a good Restaurant is about the package when you walk in, you can sense a good (or bad) agency almost immediately.


Other considerations.


Are they in the right time at the right place – for you. There’s no point going to the flashiest designer or Michelin starred restaurant if you just want a logo to fit in with existing brand identity or a Hamburger. Likewise you don’t go to blunt pencil design or a food stall if you need a corporate make-over or wedding catered for. Trust your own instinct as you would a good chef.


Can they manage all or some of your needs? Are you looking for a one-stop shop or just one specific skill, a table d’hôte or à la carte. Most agencies are jacks of all trades and can provide the full service adequately. Others offer specific specialist skill sets or alternative cuisines. There appears to be recent movement back toward the set menu as opposed to the graze or buffet option. Decide on what’s best for you but don’t just go for fad or flavour of the month.


Do you have a budget? It is remarkable how flexible things have become but you still can’t expect star cuisine for diner prices. You might sometimes have a voucher or get a bargain but be realistic in your expectations of your wallet when you approach the menu and you’ll be surprised what can be achieved.


In some magical relationships you will achieve the magical trinity of quality, service and price in one restaurant or even campaign. Mostly though it stands to reason that you need to decide which two of the trinity you need to achieve, and balance your needs and expectations accordingly. Be clear in your particular dietary needs as they will dictate your future partner’s approach.


And remember. Never sign off on or order something you’re not comfortable with. It’s a sure recipe for disaster.


Buon appetito!


This article published in the Sunday Business Post on February 16th, 2014

Is there a future for Advertising Agencies?

The future of advertising in IrelandUnfortunately, several previous predictions have materialized and while one or two have thrived, the remainder have not and a few Agencies are still hanging on by their fingernails. We have witnessed a decimation of the Industry with some reports suggesting that employment in the sector has “downsized” by over 40% over the past two years.


So does this mean there’s more to share amongst those remaining. I suspect not. Confidence appears to be returning from the depths of gloom however the digital evolution, another communications channel mind, is experiencing irrational growth fuelled by brand managers opting for cheap volume over meaningful awareness and who is to blame them as traditionalists ignore or belittle the medium. There are great opportunities, as clients returning with budgets to be planned over a period and not just spent as projects, are more than ever determined to challenge and extract maximum poundage.


Let’s hope that the Ad business can educate experienced marketeers as to the value of at least medium term relationships that result in proper thinking expressed in great creative work versus the cut and paste, poorly re-voiced, run of the mill work that has come to the fore in recent times. There is tremendous opportunity to improve the thinking and quality of work and in doing so portray the Island as a centre for creative excellence and not just to indigenous advertisers. There is a real balance between financial pragmatism and fighting for good hard working creativity. Our own business is developing as we walk that challenging tightrope with our colleagues every day. Let’s hope the industry still has the collective brain power left to make these commercial arguments.