Location, location, location may work for real estate, but not marcom

June 12 Ad Age says New York-based Heineken USA is only considering Manhattan ad agencies in its search. The spirits maker says the breadth and depth of digital communications challenges makes face-to-face meetings more important than ever. So, they say they need an agency that's only a few minutes away.

I don't buy that logic for a minute. I think it shows, instead, that Heineken's marketers are high maintenance and need lots of hand holding.

As Ad Age correctly points out, geographic limitation also restricts talent and ideas. By shutting out the best and brightest from other regions, Heineken is almost guaranteeing a less strategic and creative end result.

Heineken is the third marketer in recent months to demand a local agency. ConocoPhillips and Liberty Mutual apparently made a big deal about agency location in their RFPs as well.

We recently lost a pitch we should have won because the law firm prospect told us they wanted its firm to be located in Los Angeles. Unlike Heineken, however, they neglected to mention this fact during the search process. Nice touch, no?

Face-to-face meetings are critical, especially in sales. But, to insist that an agency selection be based solely on proximity is foolish. We have clients all over the country and our results are consistently good, whether the organization is based in Oshkosh or Ossining.

Heineken's 'hometown' search is nothing more than a needy client already indicating that he or she will be extremely high maintenance. Now, who's up for a Corona, or two?

2 thoughts on “Location, location, location may work for real estate, but not marcom

  1. The last agency that I interned for recently went through the same situation as you did with the law firm.
    There are certain situations where I think recruiting a local agency makes sense (namely when a small business with a highly local focus is first dipping its toe into the PR world), but with the communication technology that we have at our fingertips today I don’t see why a company that serves a national market would want to limit itself like that.
    I know it’s frustrating to get jerked around by a potential client, but all you can do is keep turning out great work that will prove your team can deliver results from anywhere.