Ogilvy’s Rory Sutherland posts on Why every single digital agency in the world is a failure:
“I cannot think of a single case where a brand has created something of lasting value online (I obviously exclude the more obvious transactional mechanisms here – online check-in, Tesco.com, etc) which had more than a flash-in-the-pan entertainment value.
Not a single Facebook application has been created by a brand – at least not yet…. and as far as I know no major brand has created a widget or a gadget. The greatest ever mobile application was never supported by a brand – and seems to have disappeared – while millions have been spent by those same brands creating silly handset games or whatever.”
Although some of the commenters give a few counter examples (Nike+, for one) I think Rory’s point is largely correct – but the fault lies with the failure of agencies to push their clients toward more creative, more innovative solutions. One of the things that I’ve seen a lot of in the world of agencies is “yes men” – account people who are simply not prepared to push or challenge the client, and for whom the client is never wrong (and woe betide any person at the agency who tells the client they’re wrong).
To my mind, that’s a complete failure on the agency’s part. The client isn’t hiring you to say yes: they’re hiring you for your expertise. If all you do is say yes to whatever the client demands, what value are you adding to the process? Nothing except some very expensive implementation work.
There have been several occasions when I’ve been in the position of having to explain to a client that their idea is unworkable or simply wrong, and what I’ve found is that as long as you do it in the right way they end up respecting you more and everyone has a better product. It’s all part of engaging and exciting the client about the creative process, making them part of it. And that, to me, is part of the fun of dealing with clients: taking them on a journey which ends with a piece of work which everyone can be proud of, and which gives the customer something cool.