Agency relations: Vendor or partner

Ken Beaulieu

Today's complex marketing landscape requires a substantial level of collaboration between client and agency. But has the nature of the client-agency relationship regressed? Recent ANA research revealed that more than one-third of marketers surveyed described their primary ad agency as a "vendor" or "supplier," rather than a "partner." Perhaps even more troubling, many clients are increasingly questioning the effort put forth by some of their agencies. A survey by Avidan Strategies found that 72 percent of marketers believe agencies are "inconsistent and need to improve," and 24 percent say "agencies are falling short and not doing a good job."

In this Q&A, we asked three top brand marketers to share their definitions of a true agency partner and explain how to optimize an agency relationship, among other topics.

Our panel of experts

Roger Adams, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, USAA Sheryl Adkins-Green, chief marketing officer, Mary Kay Inc. Krista Gibson, senior vice president of brand strategy, Chili's