How many account people does it take to make you change your agency?

| December 5, 2011

Do you ever think about the number of people servicing your business and the red tape you have to go through to get things done. Mick Hunter believes it is important to work with the decision makers when dealing with outside contractors like creative advertising agencies rather than the ‘yes men’. 

I was lucky enough to be in back-to-back meetings a few months ago (now you don’t hear anyone say that too often).

An old client of mine had decided to hold a pitch for his mid-sized account. 

He had been dissatisfied with his current agency for reasons better kept to himself and had asked me to sit in as an advisor as three agency’s presented their credentials including the incumbent.

Present from the client side were the MD, the CFO, the Marketing Manager and myself.

In came the first agency.

All ten of them.

The exchange of business cards alone took longer than a Bobby Fischer Boris Spassky chess match.

There was more Account Directors and Execs than you could hope to poke a stick at, all promising that the client would be “serviced within an inch of his life”.

I wondered what their other clients would have to say about that.

Agency two came traipsing in led by their Chairman in a scene reminiscent of the elephant march from Disney’s The Jungle Book.

The Chairman trumpeted the agencies successes and awards and how he personally would be all over the business like a cheap suit albeit an Armani one.

Now, I know from experience that the amount of times a small to mid size client actually sees the Chairman of a large agency is exactly twice.

Once, in presentations like this one and the other, the day before the client fires the agency.

So this clearly wasn’t going to work.

The final agency arrived.

All three of them.

And they were a breath of fresh air, quite literally, as since the other  agency’s with their battalions of people had left, there was physically more oxygen in the room.

The Managing Director, Creative Director and the Planner would be the only ones working on the clients business and, judging by the work they had done in the past, they we’re more than capable of doing so.

The client would be working with experienced professional people who had the their best interests at heart.

In the end the decision was quite an easy one.

Sure, service is important, but put yourself in their shoes, would you pay for a host of people that contribute little if nothing to your business?

Who knows, perhaps you are.


Mick Hunter was born in Glasgow, Scotland. After serving his apprenticeship as a welder, Mick spent two years in South Africa working on various gas and oil pipelines. A few years, and a succession of jobs later, Mick enrolled in and completed the Australian Writers and Art Directors course where he teamed up with Ian Morton. In 1994, they secured a position with The Campaign Palace Sydney. Since then, they have consistently won every local and international Award. They have also won 13 Effectiveness awards for a large number of clients. After nearly 10 years as a Senior Copywriter Mick became joint Creative Director of The Campaign Palace in 2003. After a brief stint of Freelance at Clemenger BBDO Sydney, Mick took up the role of Creative Director at Whybin TBWA Sydney in June 2004. In May 2006 he set up creative consultancy Brain Surgery working with both local and international clients. Now he is part of the creative collective Grown Ups.