Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Agencies are failing to live up to client expectations

Client-agency relationships are in urgent need of an overhaul, according to research released by Havas Group, in partnership with YouGov and Prescient. The ‘Meaningful Brands Special Report: The Client-Agency Relationship Barometer’ is made up of in-depth interviews and a quantitative study among more than 100 procurement decision makers in the US and UK.

The research found that procurement professionals are increasingly seeing their roles as being future-focused, with 25% viewing transformation as their top priority. However, agencies are failing to aid this transformation. 46% of respondents feel that their agencies are only providing traditional solutions to problems, with 50% of them seeing a disconnect between their needs and what agencies are providing.

Furthermore, 20% believing that agencies present ‘new and shiny’ innovations rather than what is actually integral to the needs of the brand.

“A dynamic new agenda is emerging across businesses as organisations pivot to adapt to shifting consumer behaviour, and the client-agency value exchange has never received more attention,” said Tracey Barber, Global CMO, Havas Creative Group. “The findings of our ‘Client Agency Relationship Barometer’ are a wake-up call for agencies: it’s time to build strategies that close the client expectation gap and forge meaningful relationships that can stand the inevitable challenges and tests ahead.”

As a result of the study, Havas has created seven pillars for agile agencies to follow in order to build more meaningful and last relationships. Pillars include:

  • Everything must be driven by its relevance to the business, so build a way to understand the impact of your actions.
  • Create forums for new experts and talent to come to the table (ESG / Sustainability / Purpose).
  • Tie everything back to the delivery of tangible value and actual return on investment. If your clients feel they are getting great value, they probably are.

“In our increasingly complex world, a successful client-agency relationship must take the form of a valued partnership. Agencies should become trusted counsellors, aiding their clients in navigating uncertainty and creating meaningful connections with consumers,” said Erin Flaxman, Global Chief Growth Officer, Havas Media Group. “These pillars are a guide to understanding the core issues facing clients and strengthening the forward-looking skills and expertise today’s procurement professionals are looking for.”


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