The naked truth about trust

More than half of marketing execs think agencies are more interested in selling their work than solving the client's problem. A new study from RPA unveiled at Cannes today reveals the agency-client trust deficit.


The industry has a trust problem.

That’s the finding from a survey done by California-based agency RPA and shared today at Cannes, during a seminar titled “The Naked Truth: An Unadulterated Look at The Client/Agency Relationship and What It Means for Creativity.”

Yet the results, from an anonymous online survey of more than 140 ad agency and brand marketing leaders, done in partnership with USA Today, shows 98% of both ad agency and marketing execs agree the best work emerges when clients trust their agencies.

So, what’s behind this lack of trust and what can be done to fix it?

According to the survey, issues such as disagreement about the role of creativity, different tolerance levels for creative risk, a lack of honest and open communication, as well as a perceived lack of understanding of each other’s businesses, all hurt trust between agencies and clients.

For instance, 88% of marketing executives say they speak their mind freely, even when it’s uncomfortable, to their agency, but only 36% of agency leaders believe that to be true. Agencies also have greater faith in creative work delivering business results, with agency execs saying “the best creative work” could move business by 48%, while marketers said 26%.

And 56% of marketing executives believe their agencies are more interested in selling them their work rather than solving problems.

“From the results, it’s clear the industry has a trust problem, but there’s a lot that agencies, in particular, can do to earn the trust we feel we deserve,” Tim Leake, SVP of growth and innovation at California-based RPA, said in a statement about the presentation.

There’s hope though, RPA says, in its four-point plan for increasing trust that agencies, in particular, can take. It recommends agencies put as much focus on communicating with clients as they put into mass communications, working with clients to better define the role of creativity, supporting the client to help them recognize the distinction between when creative is different versus when it’s risky and lastly, to practice the “art of business” as much as the “art of advertising.”

RPA also put together a teaser video to promote the seminar, which can be viewed below.

Check out the infographic prepared by RPA below to find out more.

naked truth