My buddy’s firm had a conflict, so they were asked to recommend two other agencies. Mine was one of two.
We jumped on the phone with the prospect, listened to her talk about a major re-brand with which her corporation needed significant support here in the United States. ‘That’s spot-on for us,’ said our agency president, who cited countless examples. ‘But,’ he cautioned the lead, ‘We are NOT a global agency and would have to partner with other firms in, say, India, etc., if you need people on the ground to coordinate events.’
The prospect assured us it wouldn’t be an issue, and we set a first meeting. I attended that session and, as meetings go, I’d rate it a solid nine on a scale of 1-10. My colleagues and I nailed each, and every, question, and I made sure to reiterate that we had four, and only four offices (and would be unable to support any global efforts without first lining up key partner agencies). Again, the prospect assured us it would be a non-issue. She asked for an immediate scope-of-work, and said a decision would be made ASAP.
And it was. Wednesday of last week, the prospect called me to say, ‘Steve, we loved you and your team but, frankly, we need boots on the ground in places such as Germany, India and China, so we’re going with a global agency. That said, IF we should have other, future U.S. assignments, you’ll be the first ones we call.’ Sure, and the Mets will make a late-season run and win the World Series.
Damn, I thought to myself. Fooled again. But, in conducting a quick post mortem, I couldn’t find a single flaw in our process. We were transparent throughout and made it very clear we did NOT have boots on the ground in places such as Frankfurt, Mumbai and Beijing. And, the prospect assured us multiple times that it wasn’t an issue.
And, then it became an issue. We lost a piece of business we thought we’d won.
And prospects such as this one continue to abuse agencies at will.
THIS is the sort of story our trades pretend doesn’t happen. Yet, it occurs all the time. There are a lot of shysters out there who, in order to pick an agency’s brain and, basically, obtain, free advice, will lie.
It’s depressing. And, it’s getting worse. And, corporate communications trade groups and our industry media continue to pretend the problem doesn’t exist.
I sometimes think we’re living in a Stepford Wives-type Industry where only the good news is reported, and the sleazy happenings continue unchecked.
I, for one, make a solemn pledge not to let this happen again to Peppercomm. I’m not sure how I’ll assure that, but I’ll take the pledge nonetheless.
Having said that, who needs an agency for an immediate re-brand with NO global components?