An Open Letter to clients from agencies


An industry professional calls out clients, as the industry works toward creating a flexible work-culture that aids work-life balance.

When an assassin is arrested for murder, the person who hired him is considered equally culpable of the crime. So when ad agencies are being called out for toxicity, why aren’t the clients being pulled up for abetment? Let’s face it if the clients were reasonable, a large chunk of advertising agencies wouldn’t have to resort to the extremes to keep their businesses running as they currently do.

“If you don’t deliver on our unreasonable demands within an unreasonable amount of time, we will take our business elsewhere.”

Anybody who has been in the remote vicinity of an ad agency would have heard these words. And these words are becoming dangerously frequent. And with agencies mushrooming at every corner, the clients hold leverage over agencies and are resorting to these threats on a regular basis. Since these threats aren’t hollow, the agencies are forced to buck up and deliver irrespective. Through health, sickness, days, nights, weekends, and holidays.

Also Read: What are we waiting for? – An open letter to Agencies

There was a time when agencies were treated like creative partners. These days, partners have become vendors. Agencies are seldom shown respect – forget what they deserve, but even the bare minimum. Even when the junior-most clients summons an agency branch head, they are left with no choice but to go running. I am not suggesting hierarchy, but basis status quo and resource management. You don’t need the CEO to sign off Whatsapp creative.

And clients need to stop telling agencies how to do their jobs. Why do you pay a hefty amount to a bunch of experts for their expertise and then tell them how to do their jobs. Just because the nature of the job involves subjectivity, don’t shoot off personal opinion disguised as feedback.

“We pay you, so you are obligated to do WHATEVER we ask of you,” is the attitude most clients bring to the table. There have been times when clients have made agencies work weekends on projects, just because clients work on weekends. And the worst part is, some of these projects are duds – jobs that have been shelved for some reason, mostly budget. And despite being aware of it, clients make agencies toil. Why? Because agencies are on payroll.

This needs to stop. This can only happen if agencies call out these clients and their unprofessionalism. Shame them. Blacklist them. Join hands and refuse to work with them. That’s probably the only way they will learn. They sustain this abusive behavior because they feel they are untouchable and agencies won’t out them for the fear of losing business. Maybe it’s time to tell them that they won’t get away anymore. We’ve had enough.


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