Okay, let’s get the obvious reasons out the way.
Yes it’s because creative work builds client business.
Yes it’s because agencies want to have good work on their reels and to win awards and, in turn, win more business.
Yes, even for professional pride and job satisfaction.
But there is a less obvious reason.
But let’s back up a little.
You know those people on the house makeover and property ladder type shows who stubbornly ignore the experts and go with the lime wallpaper and avocado bathrooms and are then proven to manifestly not be the design geniuses they imagined they were?
Are you ever truly surprised?
Or those restauranteurs who, despite the advice of Gordon Ramsey insist that 102 starters on the menu is precisely the way to a successful restaurant and can’t understand why their only customer is their mum.
The list is never ending: female fashion disasters who, while comfy in their football shirt and trainers, wonder why men ignore them. Hoteliers who believe people love greasy food and dirty bathrooms.
How we snigger at them and their ignorance.
Of course, week after week the subjects finally see the importance of a good story arc and listen to their professional’s advice.
But imagine if they didn’t.
Imagine if Gordon Ramsey just said, ok, whatever you think is best, we can serve that Dover Sole with chocolate sauce and a diet Coke in a can, no problem. He wouldn’t be Gordon Ramsey would he?
If a client decides they know what they want, that is all well and good.
But usually (there are always exceptions) they have no discernible skills for design or creativity. I don’t mean that as an insult, it’s just the way things are. If they had they might have found themselves on the other side of the fence, doing our jobs. Imagine if your creative department all became marketing clients what a disaster that would be?
And I must also concede that not everything presented by every agency is wobbly-kneed genius.
But if you work for an agency, have you experienced this little vicious cycle of events?
Step 1: The client decides what they want and briefs the agency. with specific design requests. The agency agrees to their demands. They are a tricky client and frankly it will be easier all round if we just do what he/she wants.
Step 2: The work is done up and presented and the client invariably doesn’t like their own design. Well why would they? They have no discernible skills at this sort of thing.
Step 3: But now it’s too late. Now the client can’t back out now or risk seeming stupid in front of the agency….so…
Step 4: They make changes to the design..
Step 5: They make some more changes, completely contradicting their last edict.
Step 6: hmm…this isn’t working, why can’t the agency make this work for God’s sake!?
Step 7: They make some more changes until they truly hate the design. But they say they like it because, well, they wanted it that way.
Step 8: The agency is so relieved that the client likes the sodding thing that they truly don’t care anymore. The account person has taken over briefing the studio directly because the designers have all resorted to inserting red hot pokers in to their orifices as a relaxing alternative to working on this piece of shite. It’s approved!
Step 9: Then the client’s boss sees it.
Step 10: She hates it. Who did this abomination? It looks like some marketing manager designed it.
Answer: The agency. yep, definitely. Aaaaagency. Oh yes.
Step 11: The boss thinks it might be time to review ‘our agency arrangements’.
That’s the other reason why agencies fight for creative work.
To keep clients.