What makes agencies & clients say ‘Yeh dosti hum nahin todenge’?

Building and maintaining long term relationships in today’s scenario is a tough proposition, especially between clients and agency. While there are enough examples of clients that have continued with a single agency for years, even decades, those numbers are fast dwindling. 

This Friendship Day, instead of looking at well-known personalities and their BFFs, Adgully looks at two major agencies – Havas Media Group and Isobar India – and how they have been able to foster some enduring relationship with their clients. 

Havas Media Group’s Anita Nayyar and Isobar India’s Gopa Kumar share some valuable insights, as well as the Do’s and Don’ts of building and maintaining long term agency-client relationships. They share how their respective agencies have been able to retain clients year after year, the key values that form the foundation of their successful relationships and much more. 

Trust & Transparency are the key: Anita Nayyar, CEO - India & South Asia, Havas Media Group and CEO - Havas Group, North India 

Fostering long-term clients: Some of our oldest clients are Voltas, Hyundai, Kohler, Daawat, TVS Tyres, Quikr, VLCC and Tata Motors. Voltas, Daawat, and Hyundai were some of the first few clients to assign their media duties to us post the MPG (Media Planning Group) re-brand. In a time when we were known to be a single-client “Reckitt agency”, our conviction, dedication and passion differentiated us and led the clients to believing in us. 

We not only believe in fostering existing client relationships, but also maintain past relationships (clients that have moved on) because we’re an agency that nurtures and values relationships. We are still in touch with both Chander Sethi and Archana Vyas, our valuable clients at Reckitt. And they reciprocate our feelings. We have great advocates in them. Or for that matter Arvind Saxena of Hyundai (ex) or Ashwani Arora, owner of Daawat Basmati. 

It is this trust that gives us the confidence and helps in building strong relationships. It’s been an uphill climb for Havas ever since, all thanks to the support and belief of our beloved clients and partners. 

Building enduring bonds: As mentioned above, our conviction, relentless passion and involvement of the top management at every stage is what differentiates us and helps build a strong bond with clients. Our client-centric approach helps us understand the client need and deliver beyond expectations. When we consider the client’s business as our business, their success becomes our success, their failure becomes our failure. 

The ideal client: Trust & Transparency are the key ingredients in an ideal client-agency relationship. It is a boon to have a client that believes in your ideas and trusts your capabilities in achieving them. 

Market realities: With the new wave of independent specialist agencies and consultants, there are a number of options available to clients. It is indeed a rat race among agencies, each offering the best service to clients. But relationships require constant nurturing, it is only built over-time and is not everyone’s cup of tea. 

Client Speak 

Pradeep Bakshi, MD & CEO, Voltas Ltd
Pradeep Bakshi, MD & CEO, Voltas Ltd

Pradeep Bakshi, MD & CEO, Voltas Ltd: “Our association as a client has been for more than a decade now. The journey has indeed been very fruitful and we have enjoyed this relationship as the entire Havas team has become an integral part during this while. I am glad to see that both sides work as a cohesive team in figuring out solutions. We thoroughly enjoy working with Anita and the team. Wish it gets strengthened with each passing day. Wish Havas the very best of journey in the future too!” 

Agencies aren’t vendors, but strategic partners: Gopa Kumar, Executive Vice President, Isobar India 

Fostering long-term clients: We have been fortunate as well have worked hard to develop and maintain great relations with our clients. We have many client relations ranging back from the time we started our operations in India back in 2008. For example, we have been working with Reebok for 10 years, which itself is testament to the fact that we have been able to nurture this relation for these many years. In this journey, we have grown together and created some of the best work in digital in India. We have a won number of awards for Reebok over these years as well. 

Client-agency relationship, like any other relationship, is fostered when you trust each other and challenge each other to keep on improving from your past work, campaigns. We have been able to foster this with clients by driving or focusing on Shared goals, shared insights and focus year on year, month on month, day by day.  

Building enduring bonds: The factors, as mentioned above, are of Mutual Trust and Respect of one another and the value which we are able to bring to the table. We do not work with clients to have merely a transactional relationship. We intend to and strive to be business partners and, in the process, try to solve their business problem or bring about digital transformation through creative use of digital. This also leads to the fact that so many times one can be swayed by that creative idea which you may believe is best, but it is very imperative to see the bigger picture through the lens of our clients and their challenges. The belief that we are in this together and our win is the client’s win and the client’s success is our success, goes a long way in building a enduring relationship.  

The ideal client: Agencies aren’t vendors, I believe they’re strategic partners. Both clients and agencies are experts in their respective fields and bring their respective learnings to the forefront, and they should treat each other as equals. The foundation of a healthy client-agency relationship is built on mutual respect, and trusting that the efforts put forth by both parties is in the best interest for all those involved. I sincerely believe that when clients and agencies feel secure in their partnership, communication, collaboration, and cooperation strengthen, it leads to great marketing campaigns. I will again come back to trust, transparency and mutual respect. 

The ideal client will ensure that the briefing process and the briefs are clear and to-the-point. They will give the agency as much access to their business as they can and treat them like an extension of their team. Encourage them to come up with ideas that sit outside their remit. They treat agencies as their eyes and ears on the outside world. Clients can sometimes become very introspective or stuck and a good agency will always challenge them and remind them that consumers are evolving and do not always think about brands. The agency will help you explore new ways to grab consumer attention. 

Market realities: It’s very tough these days to foster a long term agency-client relationship, where there is a constant need of pushing the price and cost down, frequent changes in marketing as well as agencies of people. Therefore, continuity is always a problem and there is constant need to fish for newer ideas elsewhere. But there are enough cases of successful and enduring long term agency-client partnership as well and that will only happen when both agency and clients trust and respect each other and are also transparent about their business challenges and operations.

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