Ad Agencies 'Arrogant', Asserts ANA

29 January 2004

More than one in every five major US marketers think their advertising agency is blighted by "creative arrogance". Clientsiders also gripe that shops charge too much and fail to deliver work aligned to agreed strategy.

Although similar harsh words were doubtless first hurled at Dr Samuel Johnson (said to have turned a sovereign or two by penning ads in hard times) it is unusual for a trade body like America's Association of National Advertisers to go public in so stern a fashion.

The ANA, whose 330-strong membership between them spend over $100 billion (€79.53bn; £54.65bn) annually on marketing communications, conducted the survey to establish the current state of client-agency relations.

Their main gripes ...

• 'Too-high' production costs (33%).
• 'Execution takes too long, too many reworks' (24%).
• 'Creative arrogance' and lack of integration (22%).
• 'Lack of leadership integration'; ditto best practices (20%).
• Fees 'too expensive' (18%).

Agencies, clearly eager to assuage client concerns, responded with proposals to improve mutual relationships ...

• Agency management to become more involved in client business (81%).
• Changing account teams and account processes (74%).
• Clients to take more heed of agency financial needs and issues; to define more precisely the scope of work; and respond more quickly to proposals and queries(35%).
• Agency executives to train to improve listening skills (27%).

Agencies also noted that clients are more frequently changing their agency-facing personnel, providing more time and better work priorities, with fewer people in the loop.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff