When we eventually come out of this lockdown, consumers and brands will behave differently and communications agencies need to be ready to adjust to this different world. Here are some key issues currently facing clients, and how agencies will need to respond.

For eight years, I’ve been conducting the RADAR survey which measures the health of client/agency relationships and provides actionable solutions for corporate clients and agencies of all disciplines. Recently, I felt the need to present these insights and learnings to the industry and, to provide a more-global view, I also researched some of the best creative agencies globally (ie Droga5, David Miami, BBDO New York and Wieden+Kennedy) to understand what they’re doing to succeed.


A very meaningful quote came from David Droga, who, when asked why Droga5 was so successful, stated that they “care beyond the brief”. It’s this caring that is ‘out of scope’ and creates relationships that can weather many challenges and deliver great work.

The agencies that don’t have these trusting relationships deliver work that is vanilla. They’ve lost their courage and this has resulted in 89% of people ignoring advertising (Forrester Research).

Needs such as critical thinking, problem-solving and relevance (among others) also don’t change and there are now additional considerations agencies need to recognise in this “new normal” world: the need for more authenticity, kindness and delivering real value to clients and brands.

Changed channels

The client/agency interaction has altered and the channels have changed. Microsoft Teams and Zoom are the new meetings, and agility has never been so important. One of the benefits (and there aren’t many) that should come out of this tumultuous time is that we should move from a “selfie” world of “me” to a kinder world of “we” — a world of shared humanity where community and collaboration are crucial and where purpose has never been so vital.

In terms of client challenges, one of the biggest is the level of competency among account management. Clients feel that middle, and even some senior, account managers are too transactional. They don’t understand their clients’ business and, as a result, don’t have a point of view. They’re not providing critical thinking or problem-solving. They don’t stop and ask: “Why?”

Additionally, there’s too much reliance on emails and WhatsApp messages, which reduces the amount of talk/face-time, and this is detrimental to building a trusting, meaningful relationship.

Work closely

Every single great relationship I encounter (and there are many) are those where the agencies work closely with their clients, be it on co-creating briefs, discussing issues or simply having a deep understanding of their business.