Category exclusivity was developed decades ago and embraced in the Mad Men era when clients viewed agencies as indispensable business partners. Although business has evolved to reflect the changing dynamics of the marketplace, clients continue to cling to the notion of exclusivity.
Today, client-agency relationships are marked by shorter contracts and re-pitching the business as clients focus on cost savings over continuity and value. And as work shifts from retainer to project-based, there’s no longer a justification for category exclusivity when a long-term commitment is not offered.
One of the most exciting aspects of the advertising and marketing communications industry is the dynamic nature of creativity and innovation. Limiting an agency’s focus to one product category or client can restrict the creative potential of agencies and stifle competition and innovation.
Other client service sectors, including legal, auditing and accounting, have broken out of category exclusivity and thrive on expertise and a bench of diverse talent to provide greater depth for clients.