Why Clients Really Fire Agencies

Why Clients Really Fire Agencies

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Darren Woolley tells MediaPost why clients really fire their agencies.


Human beings are notoriously emotional and often irrational. However, we want to think we are totally rational. Clients are no different.

In fact, rational feedback and reasons are often provided to justify what is largely an emotional response to the relationship. Being able to read between the lines of what is being said takes incredible emotional intelligence.

It is all about the relationship. Anyone that tells you otherwise is lying. You see, marketing, and especially marketing communications, tends to attract professionals who are very people oriented. This means that relationships are important to them. So when a client tells their agency “We have outgrown you” it is usually code for we have fallen out of love.

Proof of this is seen in the reverse situation, when a new CMO is appointed. If they do not instantly fall in love with the incumbent agency, often one of the first things they will do is fire the incumbent and appoint a new agency. Of course, this will be perfectly rationalized by stating that they need a fresh team aligned to their fresh idea for the brand, but this happens before the incumbents have had a chance to prove themselves.

In discussing the need for a pitch, we will often hear a litany of perfectly valid reasons for undertaking an agency review. One of the key areas we explore is the relationship with the incumbents. With probing, this is where you find that the sum of the parts is equal to an underlying whole… which is that the client no longer feels the love and commitment.

Read the full piece from Darren Woolley here.

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