by Mimi Nicklin (@MimiNicklin) Let’s be honest, transparency should be the word of the day. Without it, how do you have a hope of building long-term trust?

The reality is that our agency model is broken. If you have to charge for an account exec, the account manager, the traffic person, a planner, an art director and some designer time to change a logo, then we have a problem. It’s not to say that wasn’t the way. It was. And that’s not to say it’s not necessary to cover our overheads. It is. But, today, it just won’t wash.

Recently, our industry sat in Cannes, France, asking the ‘big questions’ about the state of our industry. All I could think was that we should instead be starting with talking about transparency. How many of the people you sell on a project does the client need vs the number you’re trying to cover? And, listen, I get it. I run an Omnicom-owned business, I have margin requirements and P&L structures, and the rest of it, but I’m entirely not comfortable with lying to my clients.

Lies catch you up

The thing with lies is they catch you up and turn you around and, in the end, you all lose out. So, tell your clients you need an hour of this, ten minutes of that, and three days for the other thing, and do it with heart because, at the end of the day, we’re all just people trying to do the best we can, right?

Let’s focus our efforts in making money on what people really value — EQ, IQ, intelligence, opinions, advice, experience — and not on creating cost estimates from entirely disputable and debatable structures. Head of strategy to rewrite meeting notes, anyone?

My take on today’s reality is that we know no other way. Because it’s complex and scary, and because, probably, our heavily structured offices can’t handle it. I’m the last one to want anyone to lose their job but, having said that, I am the first one to say, we need to work hard, really hard, at finding a solution. Many of those at the top are waiting out a few more years until retirement and don’t want to rock the boat, but can the industry really sit back and wait?

Fix ourselves

The South of France was full of people talking about disrupting tech, customer centricity and AI-driven brand interaction. I say we start with disrupting our own industry, focus instead on people centricity and human-driven brand interaction. Then we can think bigger than that. Let’s fix our models of doing business before we spend more of clients’ money trying to fix theirs.

See also


Mimi NicklinBased in Dubai, Mimi Nicklin (@miminicklin) is managing director of RAPP MEA, an Omnicom company. A keynote speaker and thought leader, she has led global and regional brands from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, on both agency- and client side. She believes that leadership is 100% about serving her team, rather than the other way around, and is avidly committed to create change for good in the industry. Her new MarkLives column, “Frank”, focuses on being frank and open about issues in adland.

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