Friday, June 3, 2011

Agencies are from Mars, Clients are from Venus

Your Guide to understand the opposite species and
maybe learn a lesson or two in your next confrontation.

Imagine our dear little AdLand as a galaxy, with our own stars, our own planets and yes of course our own species. Species who come from two planets-  Clientians and Agencians.
To survive, both need each other but the problem arises when somewhere down the line they forget their differences and start to step on each other shoes, which is primarily the main area of conflict in this otherwise happy looking place, that lures many.
Everyday both species go work, to cultivate their crops which they fondly called ‘brands’, nurturing them, watch them grow, adding fertilizers and reaping their fruits. Needing each other to coexist, their ways of work even though similar in purpose have some serious cultural differences.

The Difference!
Sharply dressed. Intellectual looking (or rather pretending to be). Strong Left brained. Normally the guys who sat on the front bench of their class. Attended universities with complicated abbreviations that offered degrees that very even more complicated. Read books written by their predecessors, with minimum five hundred pages. Understand numbers and graphs (with a strong addiction to creating and sharing them), have a feeling that they reason well, focus on the spoken language, choose their words carefully and possess enhanced scientific skills, like devising formulaes in excel and abilities to dart out words from the techincal manuals.
Clientians are perceived to be the sharper breed, all along and being the financial support, get the upper hand in this relationship.

Will dress in shorts, not washed for days, even to pick up the most prestigious award in their life. Strong right brained. Usually were spotted in the back of classrooms, near the windows and sometimes out of class. Browse books also with five hundred odd pages, but only with images and even if it did have content, they observe the font and color, probably not even read the copy unless it had their own name in the credits. Normally, failed math since class 3, and speak the language of teenagers from down the block (with an accent that doesn’t originate from their country), even when, in a room full of suited men.
So deep ingrained are these differences between both of these speciess,  that their differences arise in the smallest of things. Like being found lingering in different sections of a bookstore, buying different types of attires in shopping malls, seated seperately on a flight and connected diversely even their online worlds.
A clientian will be in the race to collect 750+ connections on Linkedin and a Agencian will have the same number if not more on Facebook. Clientians focus on adding more qualifications and references from Top Management, irrespective if they’ve met them more than once, and a Agencian will try and score more on the comments received for a witty status update, a picture clicked of themselves and their types (normally with tongue out), and sometimes a Youtube video uploaded, found, while pretending to search for viral videos for work.

Now areas for disagreement between both these species occur on various levels, and this happens because many a times, they forget that they actually are from different planets. But alas! They cant escape the inevitable ....road to the boardroom!

Clash No. 1
To interact with each other both species communicate in probably the same language, but yet so drastically poles apart. The interaction normally starts with the handover of a visiting card, which is handed with a polite “Hello’ from a clientian, and with a slight bend forward, offered with both hands. Conversely the agencian (if client servicing) will either give this with a really bad imitation of an clientian, and a few of them sometimes dont have a card (the creative guys) and will scribble an ID on a paper, and it’ll be nice for a change, if it doesn’t read like
The briefing normally initiated by a Clientian with complicated words, graphs, facts, figures, research papers, excel sheets which he will proudly display on a projector, while the agencian is busy drawing a doodle, forwarding an SMS, and sometimes surfing images on google, or simply posting an update on facebook. Finally when the lights are turned on the agencian asks the clientian, “So in one line what do you wanna say?” which is then followed by another half an hour of explanation with reference of slide numbers presented earlier! Can't blame them, that's very clientian-like.
Finally the timelines are spoken about, , and because  Clientians feel that Agencians have a magical ability to get back to their briefs on a day they call ‘yesterday’, in every interaction for generations come and gone, they keep repeating that very deadline and they have a strong feeling that one day the agencian will finally display his magical powers and deliver- Yesterday!

Clash No. 2
After about a week of their first Interaction, (if the agencian is lucky to get that kind of time) the weary looking unshaved and unkempt Agencians come back to the client with a few though processes, punny headlines with stylized layouts, which they claim to have invested a huge amount of time and effort (since last night) and at the end of the presentation the client looks at it, for a long while, ponders over it, asks the slides to go back and forth, a little more than what seems like about a hundred times, while the Agencians are playing guessing games on what is they are really thinking about, and finally the Head Clientian asks the junior most member of his team to give his comments. Now junior feels his moment of fame has arrived and he begins what is called - The Kill!
One by one they tear apart the ad, from the basic thought, to color, size of logo and even the way the asterix appears. Finally the clientian decides to take it in their own hands and they use their super skills at PowerPoint cropping the various options, compiling them together, using text boxes, sometimes Wordart, and finally creating something that’s just perfect, according to them.
At the end of it the clientian didn’t understand, what the agencian spoke and neither did it work the other way round.

Clash No. 3
The poor agencian, go back to their caves licking their wounds, after a session of abusing and criticizing  the Clientians)  and finally gather some courage to get back with their best way of understanding what they gathered from their interaction. A changed ad is produced keeping in mind the Clientians demands, and finally sent again.
Now Clientians are focussing on the message and the agencian is focussing on the look, and then comes the blast.. an image option is asked for! The clientian didn’t even understand the visual idea in the ad had and now wants a Indian looking model, holding the product in her hand, or two executives shaking hands, or worse an image he found on google search, of 13kb to be enlarged to a outdoor hoarding.

Clash No. 4
After much back and forth or mails that initially started with words like ‘herewith’ and ‘enclosed’, they go down to FYI and PFA and sometimes no subject, just attachments, and even threats!
Then comes the stage of finishing and the battle has reached its climax. The client wants the logo bigger, a phone number louder and the cleavage lesser, while the agency is battling for exactly the opposite! Thanks to the publishers deadline, and the risk of them both losing their jobs, some common ground is attained.

Clash No. 5
Desired Result
Finally the ad is released, and all are happy, both worlds feeling they drew first blood. And then the result is measured by the awards won, likes hit on FB, viewers in YouTube etc, while the clientian is back to his old ways of graphs, slides and measures.
And they go on to live (not so) happily ever after.

Living in a Peaceful World
Creating harmony and peace between the two species would be an ideal scenario and that can happen if you simply understand the two of you are different, in more ways than one. But some of the best campaigns in this world have only been created because of great relationships between the two worlds. Clientians move to different companies, and take their Agencians along with them, only because they build chemistry between them.
We all need to know that this is like a marriage, and inspite of highs and lows, good times and bad, thick and thin, if both species can try and take two steps back and understand why the other person is behaving in a particular way, it’ll make things so much easy.

Moral of the story
Frankly lessons are many, easier said than done, but it’s been so many years and none have been put to work or have changed the landscape of this world, so let me rest my case, and enjoy the comments I receive after I post this online.
While people like me who sit on the fence enjoy the view, you, try and decide which side of the battlefield you are on, and maybe a little soul searching will go a long way.

 DNA tests anyone?