The ICA looks for a few good clients

The association wants to show off the best-in-class companies in its inaugural Client of the Year award.
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The Institute of Communication Agencies is launching its inaugural Client of the Year award, asking agencies to put their best client forward.

The decision to launch this new honour comes from the institute’s ongoing client-agency committee, which made the recommendation for the standalone award, which will be handed out at next year’s CASSIES.

“We just felt that there are some excellent clients out there,” says Gillian Graham, CEO at the ICA. “It’s time to recognize them and build some case studies around what those kinds of relationships look like. We really wanted to celebrate the relationships that are positively moving businesses forward based on best-in-class principles.”

A recent study from California-based RPA found that there is a trust deficit between agencies and clients, with more than 56% of marketing executives believing their agencies are more interested in selling them their work rather than solving problems. Further, while 88% of marketers believed they spoke freely (even when it’s uncomfortable) to their agency, only 36% of agency leaders believed that to be true. Another study by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) found a disconnect between what clients and agencies look for in a successful agency. For example, “new agency revenue streams” was seen as a top trend for agencies (at 28%) but came in dead last for brands, with only 3% of respondents saying it was something that would influence an agency’s future. Clients also had doubts about agencies’ data and analytic capabilities, with only 35% saying partners have the right data and analytic tools available to measure effectiveness.

This type of award would help highlight positive working relationships, Graham says.

To enter, agencies are invited to select a client and define the “successful interface between the client and agency,” according to a release. Candidates will be judged on: transparency and clarity regarding agency expectations; whether the partnership is organizationally structured for success; a demonstrated ability to measure and evaluate performance in pre-determined KPIs and real-time data; and prove the ability to use research and data. The entries, due August 30, cost $399, plus HST.

Graham admits it will be a learning year, and suspects there will be some major changes or tweaks next year based on feedback. Most of the judging panel this year will be made up of the ICA board and the Client of the Year steering committee (currently headed by David Gibb, EVP, managing director at JWT). There will also be a client and an academic on the judging panel, though Graham can’t announce who yet.

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