Alliances should not just kowtow to ad agencies

With reference to last week’s Comment (DW 22 January) regarding Boots the Chemists and its proposed integrated approach to its future marketing communications and design needs, I have worked on both sides of the fence as a client (Tesco and Woolworth’s) and on the agency side and have experienced mixed results.

To work successfully there has to be a creative balance between the specialist agencies and directional leadership from the client.

The successful partnerships rely on a ‘thread’ or a ‘signature’ approach that allows each specialist creative to contribute rather than follow a committee or corporate mandate.

Too often the leadership is assumed by the advertising agency, which believes that because its fees are the biggest, its strategy and creativity must be infallible.

Of course, ad agencies can be seen as parochial, as can the clients’ department managers. However, allowing each of them the freedom to be a valued player will lead to many efficiencies (not just financial) and a constant creative excellence across all communication media.

With particular reference to Boots, everyone involved should start from one undeniable point: ‘The customer is the ultimate decision-maker’.

How they are touched by the brand will need creative specialist skills working in parallel and unifying management.

One other thought is the collective responsibility. While we talk of creative excellence, winning awards and integrated communications, we should remember that nearly 2000 people recently lost their jobs at Boots.

Paul King

Creative design consultant

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