Four A's study finds differences on reviews

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Marketers and consultants work closely together on account reviews. But they have differing views on the motivations behind that process, according to a new survey commissioned by the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

Marketers said weak creative is one of the main reasons agencies get fired; consultants blame management changes at client companies.

MARKETER DISSATISFACTION

The No. 1 reason marketer respondents cited for starting an agency review is general dissatisfaction with the incumbent's performance, followed by poor creative, weak sales, lack of strategic focus at the agency and staff changes at the marketer.

Consultants saw things differently: Staff changes at marketing companies were rated by consultants as the No. 1 reason for a review, while poor creative was rated No. 4.

"There is a disconnect there," said O. Burtch Drake, president-CEO of the Four A's.

Marketers and consultants also were divided over the importance creative presentations play in the agency selection process. While 68% of marketers said so-called spec creative is a necessary and useful part of the selection process, only 1% cited spec creative as the most important factor in a review decision.

Consultants also were divided, with 36% calling spec creative useful or critical in the review process, while 48% said it was not useful or "should be prohibited."

STRATEGIC THINKING KEY

The most important factor in agency selection, according to marketers, is strategic thinking. That's good news for agencies as they seek to position themselves as marketers' strategic partners, and not mere vendors.

"The agencies that win are the ones with the best strategic thinking. The bells and whistles and things . . . that's not relevant," said Mr. Drake.

3DR International, West Bloomfield, Mich., polled 53 top advertising and marketing execs via questionnaires and follow-up interviews, while Sulcer Communications, New York, surveyed 28 consultants by phone and personal interviews.

Copyright October 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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