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Sometimes clients deserve to be shown two fingers

Last week, on Campaign's front page, the French creative duo Frédéric Raillard and Farid Mokart provided an amusing lesson in how to respond to clients that decide to put their business up for review for no apparent reason. "The new Wrangler guy doesn't like our 'we are animal' campaign," they said. "Fine. Our 'we are animal' campaign doesn't like him."

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But beneath the characteristic bombastically juvenile words from an agency that prides itself on not taking everything too seriously (see its "On the creative floor" from 2012 for evidence), the pair were also making a serious point.

They were rightly proud of their Cannes-winning work – it was not the campaign’s fault that the account was put up for review and that, ultimately, they were still the owners of that idea. It was refreshing to see an agency that was prepared to stand up for what it believes in (in this case, most importantly, its work) rather than cravenly issue a standard "we wish them well" pro forma. Could we see this happening over here? I hope so, as client demands seem to be increasingly unreasonable and at times unfair.

Starcom MediaVest Group’s Iain Jacob gave a teasingly revealing quote last year when the agency resigned its Premier Foods account after the client demanded agencies pay to be on its roster. He said:

"We pride ourselves on being a transparent business and we operate to the highest professional standards." Whatever can he have meant? Anyway, Premier Foods eventually backtracked on its plans when agencies put up a united front against such behaviour.

It was refreshing to see an agency stand up for what it believes in rather than issue a 'we wish them well' pro forma

Leagas Delaney also deserves credit for deciding not to repitch for the British Red Cross account, for which it produced a hauntingly powerful ad, after that too went up for review (again, for no apparent reason).

There is widespread sympathy for CHI & Partners, which is being forced to defend its £55 million Argos account despite the campaign being the most salient in the sector – something that even the client himself is willing to acknowledge.

And what about poor old Grey London, which, having created one of the most popular and effective campaigns for the British Heart Foundation, was told that it was also up for review at the end of last year? What’s particularly gut-wrenching about the latter is that, as a charity account, it was hardly much of a money-spinner but rather an example of an agency willing to allocate a disproportionate amount of time and resource for the sake of societal good.

Both CHI and Grey have every reason to feel the same as Fred & Farid – their work was good and effective, and the punishment of a time-consuming and expensive review seems crassly unfair. Maybe a more Gallic approach would have been in order.

jeremy.lee@haymarket.com
@jezzalee

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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