Siddhartha Mukherjee: Multiple Agencies! Why?

24 Nov,2016

By Siddhartha Mukherjee


One Client, Multiple Agencies! Apart from agencies benefitting, I really do not see how a client stands to gain in the long run by spreading bits of the integrated communication mandate across multiples. Neutrally speaking, it may show poorly on the client.


During the last couple of weeks, corporate egos have given all of us – news readers and agencies – enough to consume and maximise on! Even otherwise, corporates have not only changed their agencies and but have also added more service providers rather than focusing on just one!


What beats me is that why would the client need to do so?:

1. Defies Commitment towards Holistic Corporate Brand Reputation: While it has become a (corporate) style statement nowadays to talk on reputation, however, KPIs such as using the services of multiple agencies so wonderfully contradicts this and defies all the claims by the corporate client. The basic or elementary principle on which reputation is planked on is cohesion or call it unison. So how on earth would the brand’s internal communication custodians manage saliency and cohesion across so many agencies. It smacks lack of understanding and seriousness, most importantly.


2. Pull-Push of Individual Corridors: Often, preferences rule the selection and the presence of multiples. Look at the corridors involved – central Corporate Communications Head, corporate communications of individual businesses (in case of multiple business Organization), Brand Heads, Marketing Heads, CEO, etc. Given that each desk has a measure of influence, the corporate brand gets impacted negatively in the long run because of personal agenda. Ideally, the CEO and Central or Group Communications should have the final say in the appointment of a central agency. This will ensure that every single desk and function works in unison towards a Common Minimum Programme for the brand and therefore the expectations from the central Agency.


3. Agencies’ Inability to Pitch Holistically and Project Convincingly:  Sadly, new business pitches by agencies needs a thorough health check-up. Rarely  have I come across corporates genuinely praising their experience of an agency Pitch. Does not matter if it is an Indian or multinational agency – finally the net average hovers around the same range. Various dynamics have baffled corporates, many of those have even pushed them to border close to irritation: a) Presentation Content far away from what the Prospective Client wants to know b) Presenter paints it poorly c) Only talk of Credentials d) Only talk of Media Relations prowess and how it can influence control on journalists e) Not projecting as a standalone one-shop that will take care of various nuances of Corporate Brand Reputation f) Not backing the talk with facts, figures, numbers etc.


This has led to various corridors within a client organisation not realising the value of a single or central agency. Too many agencies will eventually spoil the corporate broth!


On the agencies’ front, a shake-up is imminent. This in turn will reduce the corporates options to choose from many agencies so that they can break and spread their mandate across. However, the serious bit is for the corporates to think! Time to introspect the way they are going about building brands within the Make In India economy. CEO, CMO, Brand Heads and Communications Heads are going their individual ways and appointing agencies to satisfy their myopic needs. Sad! In this way, a sound Corporate Brand Reputation will never be achieved.


However, one must keep in mind that learnings come under the disguise of crisis…but, by then, hope it is not too late!


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