The Benefits of Selecting an Agency of Record
In the end, designating an advertising Agency of Record (AOR) for your organization should be a decision based on the strategic, long-term marketing and communication needs of your stakeholders in your marketplace.
I know what you’re thinking. My conclusion may sound biased, since I am employed by a full-service ad agency, I can also offer this opinion from the perspective of a CMO with more than 25 years of experience from the client side in healthcare, higher education, and professional services institutions. What I am witnessing is a trend of organizations moving away from an agency of record model to a project based model. A headline this summer in Advertising Age highlights this phenomenon: “Frito-Lay’s CMO: Agencies of Record Are Outdated, Lay’s Brand Has Gone Project-to-Project.”
Proponents for a project based arrangement argue that you can find an agency that is best suited for each type of marketing need you have. And these days the lines between marcom functions like public relations, social media, digital advertising and lead gen are becoming more blurred. I am not denying this is true, and in fact, at ab+c we are asked to do plenty of project work, and it is work we do with a great deal of pride, enthusiasm, and achieve great marketing results on behalf of our clients. What I do argue, however, is that the age of agency of record is not dead, and before making a decision to eliminate this partnership arrangement, you should consider what this relationship brings to the table:
Your agency of record will have a deep understanding of your market because it studies it, researches it, and frankly, lives it on a daily basis. An agency that knows your industry, your markets and your organization can bring business-building ideas to you to solve problems and take advantage of opportunities before others see or act on them. Your agency of record services your account for the long term, and is willing to try new things because it knows it must stay fresh – and it has the confidence that it will not be fired for an “off-the-wall” suggestion. In addition, many agencies have multiple creative teams, so the argument that creative is restricted with an agency of record is moot. Agencies of record will bring new team members from a variety of disciplines into the development phase of a campaign, offering new perspectives and a fresh look.
We all want brand consistency
We all know there’s nothing worse than an un-consistent brand message. The agency that helped create your brand platform and promise is best suited to convey your brand message and personality to effectively and efficiently reach key target audiences. The agency of record that helps differentiate your brand will understand it intimately and be fully vested in its challenges, opportunities and successes. And unless you are a large consumer product company (e.g., Frito-Lay, a PepsiCo-owned division) that has multiple brands, you are more likely to want to maintain a well-defined level of brand consistency across all your product and service lines.
No one wants blurred lines
Communicating your marketing needs is easier and more consistent when one message is delivered to one agency. In a multiple agency arrangement, you must define the role of each agency so as to prevent duplication of effort and then manage communication between your agencies on a regular and time-consuming basis. In an AOR we can take the message you deliver and make sure everyone from media to PR is on the same page. That’s another reason why a relationship with your Account Manager is of high importance. They get you – and they can make sure everyone else at the agency gets you as well.
The end goal is the same
At the end of your fiscal year, when you have projects that must be billed or started in order to ensure that they are funded, your agency of record is a trusted partner who can bill you accordingly for the work they have started prior to year-end. You can rest assured that your long-term contractual AOR relationship provides fiduciary and results-focused security.
Today, marketing needs are more complex, opportunities more varied, the impact of competitors more intense, the potential of consolidations greater and the need for accountability and marketing investment metrics more important than ever. An agency of record relationship has several advantages over specialty, project-to-project or brand-by-brand agencies, and may be the answer to your marketing communications needs.
Need another reason why working with a full-service agency is beneficial? Here are the five C’s we broke it into: What you need to know about working with a full-service agency.