Who’s Watching Your Back?
Should your agency be making nice with folks who are vocal critics of your business? If you’re Chevron, and the critic is an aggressive environmental advocacy group who is also playing a role in huge litigation against you, the answer (rightfully so, I think) is “No, thanks.” That’s why Ogilvy recently found itself with one less big account.
Their mistake? A staffer from an Ogilvy PR business unit spoke to the advocacy group at an event about strategic communications for environmental defense and other topics that Chevron undoubtedly pays some serious fees to lobby against. And, oh by the way, Ogilvy also provides those lobbying services to Chevron, according to the Ad Age article.
Given Ogilvy’s size and the involvement of multiple specialty business units, it’s easy to imagine that this was simply a lack of internal communication on the agency side. However, it does serve as a reminder – especially in this age of business consolidation – that ultimately an agency cannot serve too many masters.
Because we have multiple clients in the automotive category, we’ve learned to evaluate potential conflicts of interest very carefully. If in doubt, we’ll ask our clients directly if they’ll allow us to pursue an opportunity that might be construed as a conflict.
Transparency is everything in this business. Clients are smart: they “get” that new business development is key, especially for boutiques or smaller agencies. Here at Brandware, our clients are our best referrals – much of our new business comes in through their recommendations.
Whether you’re on the corporate, client or agency side, your partners should be protecting and safeguarding your intellectual and financial assets. You should never have to wonder who’s watching your back.
Photo courtesy of Horia Varlan on Flickr.