Brands ask more of agencies in China

07 March 2012

BEIJING: Chinese brand owners are more likely to be dissatisfied with advertising agencies than their overseas counterparts, a study has shown.

R3:GC, a joint venture between the consultancies R3 and Grupo Consultores, polled over 300 executives, representing firms like Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Lenovo and China Mobile, finding that 62.5% were "satisfied", 24.1% were "indifferent" and 9.2% were "dissatisfied" with their agency's performance.

By contrast, similar research elsewhere demonstrated that 88.6% of clients in European Union countries were "satisfied" in this area, standing at 84% in India and 82.4% for Mexico.

The average client-agency relationship was found to last 3.3 years, falling to 2.5 years for digital media and three years for media planning and buying.

Digital creative shops posted 3.1 years, reaching 3.4 years for ad agencies and 4.6 years for marketing services providers.

Sabrina Lee, general manager of R3:GC, argued the "concubine mindset" of brand owners, shown by the fact the number of media agencies they use has grown from 1.4 to two in four years, was key.

In a related shift, 91% of corporations were seeking greater collaboration among their agencies across disciplines, as the size and variety of rosters increases.

More specifically, 69% of featured firms wanted to work with specialist digital agencies, rising from 52% in 2010. Some 95% of companies also hoped these providers would "lead" in terms of training.

When naming the vital qualities of agencies, 77% of the panel chose "people". Creativity was next on roughly 70%, ahead of strategic communications and planning, on around 45%.

"The China communications industry is suffering from a talent crunch, so marketers have a new level of hunger to get an unfair share of the best talent," said Lee.

Apple led the charts for running the best campaigns and being the most "respected marketer". Coca-Cola, Nike and Procter & Gamble also featured here, as did indigenous firms Yili, Vancl and China Mobile.

Ogilvy was the best-regarded creative agency and Ogilvy One topped the digital rankings. However, six of the top 14 on the digital list were local shops.

Elsewhere, Mindshare was ranked top in the media category.

Data sourced from R3:GC; additional content by Warc staff