|Alberto J. Ferrer|
Latino1 is a full-service Hispanic agency with a strong team, reel, track record, and client roster. Mediasaurus is a large media agency conglomerate with a long list of clients. Acme Widgets is looking to sell more widgets to Hispanics and thus hired Latino1 for the creative portion of the business and kept their general market media agency Mediasaurus in charge of the media portion of the Hispanic account.
Latino1 and Mediasaurus are supposed to work together as a team on behalf of Acme. They're supposed to set aside their differences and the fact that they are competitors for the good of Acme. Still, because they value their relationship with Acme, both make a concerted effort to work through the convoluted situation in which Acme has put them.
The team at Latino1, in the course of their dealings with Mediasaurus folks, all very nice people too, notice that the work that's being done by Mediasaurus is not up to snuff.
They're in a tough place. Do they throw their "partner" under the bus for the good of the client (all the while knowing it may open the door for them to get the media portion of the business)? Do they keep their mouths shut for the good of the "partnership" and trust that Mediasaurus will figure it out soon enough? Do they try to help Mediasaurus with the work, also risking the "partnership" as well as their intellectual property?
Add to that the fact that the work that Latino1 was hired to do would be seriously compromised by a lackluster media component over which they have no control.
Latino1 didn't have to make that decision because the client noticed the Mediasaurus work wasn't up to snuff. In fact, the client asked the Latino1 team to take a look at the Mediasaurus work and provide their opinion. Now specifically directed by Acme, and in the interest of their relationship with Acme and the potential for it to grow, the Latino1 team provides some feedback to the client on areas of opportunity for the Hispanic media work done on their behalf.
The Acme Widgets folks are impressed and ask Latino1 to directly help Mediasaurus with their media work to make it as good as the Latino1 media work. The account doesn't change hands and the scope of work doesn't change. It's all part of "working together as partners" (interesting how being a partner if you're a client is defined differently than if you're an agency, but I digress).
The result is that Latino1 folks (from media or other departments) are expected to train Mediasaurus to be a better Hispanic media company. That is, Acme is expecting that Latino1 will train Mediasaurus and in effect render it better able to compete with Latino1. Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy? And yet I've seen it at several agencies and several clients and across disciplines. Acme has a general market digital AOR handling the Hispanic work too, but they don't really know how to do it well. The Hispanic agency is asked to help them. What?!
When was the last time that (for example) Bank of America shared with Citi how they do credit card marketing so that Citi could become a more formidable competitor to BoA? This Latino1 and Mediasaurus scenario is just as mind-boggling.
As has been my refrain of late, if your agency (media, Hispanic, digital, DM, promotions, advertising) can't cut it, cut them. Don't put your agencies in the awkward position of sitting in the same room with a competitor with the expectation of intellectual property transfer. That's an unrealistic expectation and an unfair use of power.