We live in a world where people’s perception of a brand is greatly influenced and shaped by what they see and hear about the brand. The channels through which brands reached out and even connected with their audience has been ever evolving with new means emerging every few years. This creates a need for brands to stay on top of whats happening around them and constantly look for ways to connect and engage their fans. This is easier said than done.
In the digital space, brands find it easier to work with creative digital agencies who bring ideas to the table while the company can continue to focus on delivering the best products to their customers. Agencies have a responsibility to their clients, however, in the recent times there has been several fallouts between brands and agencies due to advertising fiascos or campaigns that have backfired.

The recent JWT-Ford Figo fiasco can make an excellent case study. JWT came under the scanner for ‘scam’ ads made by their creative team for Ford’s Figo. The tasteless ads showed a Figo in which former PM Silvio Berlusconi sits in the driver’s seat with a smirk on his face as three scantily clad women lie tied up in the trunk. These ads were uploaded to ‘adsoftheworld’ site and even submitted for a competition. Although JWT denies approving any such ad and even holding some junior creative employees responsible for this, the damage that the scam ads did for Ford cannot be undone. After much of the world noticed and began covering this fiasco, JWT had no options left but to fire some of their top creative heads.
jwt-ford figo fiasco
When brands work with agencies there is a sacred trust that is built. But sometimes brands choose their agencies without much regard, simply placing much of their trust on extrinsic indicators such as the agency’s past track record and age. This essentially leaves many ends loose and unaddressed. Agencies, big or small, try to bring in systems and processes in place that ensure that their clients never fall victim to their carelessness. It is almost a fundamental practice in most agencies to work in close coordination with their client’s team, often bouncing of ideas and creatives inorder to validate them and see if they are inline with what the brand has in its mind. Agencies also emphasise on getting ideas and any promotional material approved prior to them going public. Despite these stringent practices, sometimes things tend to go out of control.
When challenged with such a situation I personally feel that agencies must take responsibility and acknowledge their mistake. Denial usually attracts more scrutiny and criticism. Brands must also identify core strengths of their agency and make informed choices when coming up with a campaign. It might be necessary at times to have multiple agencies with their own expertise. It has become almost an acceptable practice for tradition advertising and PR agencies to add every emerging marketing service, such as social media marketing and digital campaigns, under their offering, despite having questionable knowledge about the domain and often flaunting jargons in their pitches and presentations. Somehow the responsibility lies with the brand to pick genuinely talented and creative agencies for building their campaigns.
In the years to come Agencies will begin to carve a niche for themselves in terms of their strengths and focus areas. Brands will have the freedom to pick and work with several agencies based on their needs. But what will remain unchanged in this ever evolving domain is the commitment and responsibility that agencies will owe their clients.
 
Prashanth Pattabiraman
MixORG Team

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