Panellists didn’t hold back at the “You can’t say that” panel at Cannes in Cairns this morning, with topics such as whether agencies hate their clients and why there’s no plus-size men in adverts brought to the table.
Moderator Aussie Merciadez, global chief of customer engagement and loyalty partnerships at Komo, was joined by author and “troublemaker” Jane Caro, CEO of Initiative Melissa Fein, Dee Madigan, ECD, Campaign Edge and Darren Woolley, founder and global CEO, Trinity P3.
The brave panellists braced themselves as Merciadez spun the wheel of questions, and the questions didn’t disappoint.
Caro didn’t hold back in her response “ I had a lot of clients I detested,” she said. “Some of them were psychotic”.
There was one client at a multinational cereal company, she said, whom you never knew if he was going to turn up as “good” or “bad”. “He would often say things one day, and deny it the day after”
Madigan made it clear that she refuses to work with “bad” clients and enjoys firing them if they cross a line. “He was really rude to my staff, so I let him know I wouldn’t be working with him anymore and refunded the money”.
Fein said she’d had experiences of working with clients in the past who were from different cultures and weren’t happy with having a female senior leader talk at important events.
“ I take satisfaction in firing clients,” she said. “Now I only surround clients we like. You can’t spend that much time together and not like each other”.
Whether the industry will be embracing the four day week anytime soon was also brought to the forefront of the discussion.
Woolley said that this is already happening, saying that he knows a number of agencies who have “embraced it”, and that keen audience members can ask him they are.
Given agencies bill by the hour, however, a loss in revenue is a concern and a lot of agencies are still seeing if they can get the same productivity, he said.
Caro spoke candidly about her dislike of contracts that billed by the hour, saying “stop charging by the hour. You penalise people for doing their jobs well. I used to lie on timesheets”.
Meanwhile Fein was clear that this change would have to come from the clients first.
For Madigan, flexibility in working is something she is able to offer to attract the best talent. “I can’t compete on salary compared to the biggest agencies, but I can on lifestyle”.
“We are incumbent to our clients, until they move to do a 4 day week we are beholden to the 5 day week.”
When asked where all the plus-size men in adverts were, Caro responded (much to the joy of the audience) that they are “working on them”. Merciadez swiftly moved the conversation on…
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