A little chilling out needed over account conflicts

On page one of this issue is the story of how Sprint Canada and BBDO Canada, the telco's AOR for all of the last month or so, parted company over a rather tenuous account conflict: BBDO's Quebec affiliate PNMD handles work...

On page one of this issue is the story of how Sprint Canada and BBDO Canada, the telco’s AOR for all of the last month or so, parted company over a rather tenuous account conflict: BBDO’s Quebec affiliate PNMD handles work for QuebecTel, a smallish regional telco being taken over by big-time Sprint competitor BCT.Telus. While BBDO president Mike Fyshe claims it was his agency, and not Sprint, that initiated their parting of the ways, the split does raise some interesting questions about how to manage such conflicts when they arise, without throwing either the agency or the affected client into turmoil.

With consolidation the order of the day in the ad business and in many client sectors, especially among multinationals, the potential for sudden new conflicts arising is greater than ever. Add in the continuing trend toward vertical business diversification (that is, retailers getting into banking; banks getting into auto leasing; automotive companies getting into online retail, etc.) and the distinction about what actually constitutes a conflict and what doesn’t becomes decidedly blurry.

The challenge here for clients is to feel confident that when they choose an agency they’re going to get some stability on the account – at least long enough to develop some meaningful and effective advertising and marketing ideas and put them into play. It’s a well-documented fact that the best, most fruitful client/agency relationships are those that are based on trust and mutual understanding – something that can hardly exist if the spectre of one or the other party upping and leaving at any time hangs over everyone’s heads.

Talking to a few senior agency types, the solution seems abundantly obvious: Clients need to relax a little and trust their agencies to preserve and manage the integrity of their account. They say clients have to realize that some conflicts are simply unavoidable, but that agencies are generally willing to do whatever it takes to protect the client’s interests. The most often cited example is the building of so-called "Chinese walls", in which certain account groups within agencies are expressly forbidden to have any interaction with the other. That’s just one possible remedy. There are obviously many others, including (one would imagine) some that haven’t been widely discussed in an open industry forum.

As the prospect of new account conflicts appears to be growing throughout the marketing industry at large, Strategy would like to encourage some debate and discussion on the issue. If you have strong feelings on the matter, one way or another, I’d like to invite you to send me your thoughts via e-mail and I’ll publish some of the more insightful replies in this space in an upcoming issue.

David Bosworth


In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.