“You lazy prick. I’ll get you fired.”
Those were the first words down the phone from the CEO of a new client I had the unfortunate privilege of managing on my second day ever in agency land, about 16 years ago.
The thing he’d asked the agency to do the day before – a thing that had been assigned to me on my first day – hadn’t hit his inbox yet.
Except it had. About an hour after he’d requested it. And he’d missed it.
Lovely guy. Let’s call him Shouty.
I guess the good thing about it was Shouty’s cards were on the table early. He was going to be a bad client. Finding that out before signing them would have been preferable. But hey, most agency staff have had their fair share slip through.
And some agencies let them through willingly.
Coincidentally and despite him being an Olympic gold medal winner in the “100m I’m a massive tool” event, I went on to have a fairly decent working relationship with Shouty. But there’s one thing I can tell you for sure about him and his business.
At the end of the day, when the agency’s doors had closed for the night, his company’s problems – and the potential creative solutions to those problems – duly and thoroughly exited my man brain until at least my
first second coffee at about 10am the next day.
And that’s a damn shame because that’s when the magic happens.
On a morning walk at 5am, mowing the lawn, browsing the internet, feeding my daughter, beers with my idiot yet brilliant mates, in the shower (apologies for that visual) – during those times when you can actually stop, breathe and think – that’s when the clients I love the most, and their problems, tick over in my brain.
The reason? They love us too.
I think about Shouty pretty much every time we start a conversation with potential clients. We’re bloody lucky to be able to work with people who genuinely love their brands, love their staff, treat us like the experts we are, give us the space to execute fast, and feed off a positive culture.
Which brings me to the point: if companies love their agency, treat them as a genuine creative business relationship and not just a transaction to be discounted, haggled or over-leveraged, they too will find themselves floating around after hours in the brains of people who are literally hard-wired to formulate solutions that will put a stack more of the folding stuff in your pockets.
Of course agencies have to earn that kind of love, there’s no question about it. Good work and results prevail. But once it’s reciprocated, amazing things can and will happen.
I don’t want to get into it too much because the creative concept involved grandmas but one campaign idea I had while eating a burrito at the footy turned into a multi-channel creative beast and a money winner for one client I just happen to love.
Just imagine what goes through the heads of the bordering-on-insane geniuses at some of the wildest creative agencies around the world?
That retainer you pay becomes the best value cash you spend as your allotted agency hours suddenly extend past closing, well into beer o’clock and far, far beyond.
It could all be yours. All you have to do is love your agency.
And under no circumstances should you be like Shouty.