IPA nurtures better relationships

9 January 2014
LONDON: The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) has published an industry blueprint aimed at helping agencies and clients achieve stronger and longer working relationships.

The move is part of the ADAPT agenda of IPA president Ian Priest, and includes templates for a 100-day charter and a relationship contract.

The charter sets the parameters for a long-term partnership, creating an opportunity to establish rules of engagement – such as how, when and how often to communicate – while also offering a timetable for who should do what by when – for example, confirming briefing, approval and sign-off process and responsibilities by Day 30.

It has been developed against the principle that clients and agencies should start as they mean to go on.

The relationship contract, meanwhile, is designed to provide a useful outline for discussion between clients and agencies to help them establish and embed relationships that are characterised by mutual respect and trust, openness and transparency, in order to optimise the benefits of working together and to maximise commercial creativity.

A focus on the concepts of organisational psychology includes the psychology of 'win-win', positive strokes – a unit of human recognition – and personal working styles.

"It makes complete business sense to establish all aspects of a new relationship from the beginning and avoid it becoming too transactional too quickly," said Priest, who was keen to move towards a culture of fewer pitches and longer partnerships.

An earlier IPA survey found the pitch process, the start-point for many client-agency relationships, was also an area that could be improved.

Priest further noted that it could take up to a year to fully integrate a new agency into the client way of working before the relationship began to flourish.

"We hope that by following the 100 Day Charter and Relationship Contract from the outset, clients and agencies will be able to fast forward this process in order to produce the best possible work as quickly and amicably as possible, and with the least amount of waste," he added.

Writing in Market Leader, Libby Child, of Aprais UK, observed that "a perfect storm has swept through long-term marketing team-agency partnerships" as corporate structures changed and media and processes fragmented.

Agencies wanted to be recognised while clients just wanted everything to work, she said. "Both parties want more from the other."

Data sourced from IPA; additional content by Warc staff
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