Jodi Peacock on upping collaboration in 2019

The Media Kitchen's Jodi Peacock on how to make the most of inter-agency relationships.


As 2019 gets underway, and the industry trickles back to work, Media in Canada is inviting media and marketing execs to share their New Year’s Resolutions around areas of improvement. Check back each day for more good-for-the-industry goals as we kick-off the final year of the twenty-tens.

By Jodi Peacock

When brands undergo a search for a new agency, their RFPs generally call for current client references. I’m convinced they should ask for references from other agencies too.

Looking for a new media AOR? Ask for references from the creative, PR, strategic and – gasp – other media agencies with whom your prospective agency has shared clients.

Why? Because inter-agency collaboration is essential to great work. The idea that effective, powerful, memorable advertising can be developed with a bunch of different agencies working in silos is ridiculous in 2019.

The quality of work isn’t all that’s at stake. Poor collaboration results in duplicated efforts that eat away at each agency’s profits, frustrated clients that turn to in-housing, and unhappy employees who walk out the door.

I might be biased. The Media Kitchen was born out of a creative agency, and we believe that experience is exponentially better when media and creative work together. Today, the number and type of agencies we work with go far beyond a single creative agency, but what remains is our belief in the power of collaboration.

But mere belief in something isn’t enough. Collaboration can be hard, especially since agencies are a competitive bunch. As Nick Cleaver of 303 MullenLowe points out, full service agencies might be better suited for clients with smaller budgets, while single holding company solutions could be best for global and other large budget clients. It makes sense in theory, but in my experience, just sharing a P&L at some level of the network isn’t always enough to guarantee great collaboration between individual agencies.

There are, however, a few simple rules to set the stage for good collaboration that are too often ignored:

Respect and agree on agency boundaries

If you have a client that regularly pits their agencies against one another to compete for work or percentage of the budget, discourage them. Believe me, even if it seems like you’re winning at first, everyone ends up losing. If you are an agency that tries to steal business from partner agencies every chance you get: stop.

Act like a team

You may not all be from the same agency but act like you could be. Agree on things before you present to client. Compromise. Take responsibility as a team and don’t try to make your agency partners look bad. Present recommendations together. If asked to present separately, align beforehand anyway.

Meet. A lot.

Especially at the beginning of a project when strategy is being developed on all sides. There’s nothing worse than coming back together after a lengthy strategy development period to find one agency completely redefined the target at some point without alerting anyone.

After the strategy development period – during which you can’t really come together too many times – keep meeting regularly until all activity is out of market, at least with a brief IAT status call the day before (not the hour before) each client status call.

Do things together outside of client work

Collaboration is easier with people you like. I’m into escape rooms right now, so if we’ll be working together soon, be prepared.

Expect respect, and give it back

Hard as it might be, speak positively about other agencies. It starts with leadership, so yes, I’m talking to the agency heads.

We have all heard agency search consultancies talk about the sea of sameness out there, perhaps it’s interplay between agencies that can make the difference. What do you think? Are you ready for a collaborative 2019?

Jodi Peacock is managing director of The Media Kitchen.