Before we kick off the year in full force, here are 6 key principles to get our advertising ethics right

Before we kick off the year in full force, here are 6 key principles to get our advertising ethics right

Promotions and new business are the lifeblood of the advertising and marketing landscape. But intense promotion leads to agency exhaustion, the effect on talent momentum and at the end of the day, sometimes, unfortunately, mediocre work.

In light of these issues, the Advertising and Marketing Association of Singapore (AAMS) has revealed a guide to best practice bidding with the aim of improving industry promotion standards in Singapore and the region. According to the study, while promotional presentation can help an organization take marketing and advertising to the next level, during a time when marketing budgets are shrinking and partnerships are evolving, marketers must structure their presentation process to be more effective and efficient.

The study states that ideally, promotions should only be called if there are strategic disagreements, competitive business gains or underlying concerns with a lack of chemistry or a management change on either side. If the agency is not able to meet clients’ requirements due to lack of capacity, then yes, requesting a presentation may only be the solution.

However, it is recommended that marketers devote time and effort to fixing a broken agency relationship, before committing to finding a new agency.

Considerations to bear in mind

Presentation and presentation processes can be costly. In addition to personal costs (travel, research, research consultant fees, etc.), there are also opportunity costs of employee time that can be spent in more productive ways. A typical agency search can take 12-16 weeks to complete and cost 100-200 hours of executive time.

Typically, clients who see reviews as a strategic project will engage the expertise of an outside consultant to bring objectivity and best practice to the process. It is not cost-effective to hire project-based engagement consultants.

Moreover, marketers must also take into account that the time spent defending the business by an existing agency, is time wasted away from thinking about a client’s ongoing marketing issues. If marketers go on to advocate for agency search without identifying the root causes of incompatibility with the incumbent, the marketer may inadvertently bring the same problems into the new relationship.

Presentation principles to adhere to

1. Marriage, not slander

The agency-client relationship should not be one that collapses at the first sign of distress. While project-based partnerships gain traction, best practices dictate that a two-year contract plus at least one year will pay off in the long run so that your agency partners have time to learn about your business.

The process of efficiently pitching presentations is time consuming on both sides, so promotional campaigns, rather than long-term contracts, are not the most effective way to “try on” the right agency.

2. Don’t just choose ideas

Likewise, using a campaign to measure an agency’s creative prowess is not a sustainable way in which relationships can be fostered. Speculative creative ideas rarely arise immediately when solving a client marketing problem because it is not possible for any agency to fully immerse yourself in your business in the process to understand the challenges you face.

3. It takes two (or more) to make magic

In modern marketing, there is often no single agency that plays a clear role in everything. Collaboration and co-creation are the new standard. Marketers should think of their partners, internal teams, external agencies, and technology vendors as an ecosystem. When all the components come together, that’s when the real spark ignites.

4. Respect goes both ways

An agency (and a client) who feels respected will see better results and a reputation – after all, who wouldn’t want to do better for a partner they enjoy working with? Brands should also be aware of reputation as in our resilient economy. Talent flows between agency, advertiser, media owners, and tech platforms, and reputations (and horror stories) are shared.

5. Less is more

Think carefully about how much information agencies have to share during the information request stage. Just ask what you intend to use for the assessment. When rated based on challenges during the show, one is perfect, and the other two are max.

Along the same lines of reasoning, refrain from adding too many agencies to the mix.

The request for information must be sent to a maximum of eight agencies – except for open tenders where this is out of control. After the shortlist, no more than three agencies should be transferred to the RFP stage.

Anything more than that unnecessarily complicates the final agency selection and discourages finalist agencies whose chances of winning will be viewed as slim.

6. Familiarize yourself with the agency’s efforts and intellectual property

Idea theft is real. Until now, the marketing community often sees ideas being taken from one agency and submitted to another at a lower cost. In the age of social networks, if such a campaign is selected, it can do more harm to your brand’s reputation than good.

Meanwhile, paying the presentation fee can also earn your brand the right reputation as a fair customer who understands the effort put into the promotion process. If an agency is expected to travel, the travel cost must be borne by the advertiser.

Stadium fee schedule

In the meantime, agencies must also ask the right questions before joining the presentation process. At the end of the day, winning the account should add value to the business not in terms of monetary value but also in growth and recognition. Agencies must consider the term of the contract and whether the business will allow the agency to do business distinct in the category. The right partnership should take the agency further and develop new opportunities that will enable their talent to grow and inspire to work in the business.

Agencies should investigate the intent of the presentation and the relationship the client may have established with the incumbent before diving in blindly.

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