Agencies are there to be useful. But there are two sides to this: there is a valuable long-term relationship that aims to overcome the kind of business problem for which communications is the tonic. On the other side, there is the daily grind, the workbench utility that agencies provide.

The interaction of the two across the 2018 Cannes Lions Festival illuminated how the desires of clients meet the ambitions of planners, as both sides argued toward a different kind of special relationship.

A movement towards the workbench has, at times, diminished the agency’s capacity to add value at the point of the business problem. “We often miss out the whole first phase,” said Janet Markwick, Y&R’s Global EVP, Commercial Operations and Production. Markwick’s experience is important in this discussion – her background includes client-side work at Coca-Cola and at Sony, where she was director of marketing communications.