I've made the mistake, so you don't have to!
We’ve All Made Mistakes During Our Career
Whether you’d like to admit it or not, we’ve all made mistakes over the life of our careers. We’re all human; and, it’s how we learn and grow to become better professionals in any industry. Sometimes we just fall into them when jumping into a new position, or at least that’s what happened to me.
What I didn’t realize early on in working with advertising agencies, making little mistakes can turn into huge issues. (Especially if you aren’t prepared for them!). And if you have never gone out to bid (RFP) after a long-term agency partner has been in place, then you won’t always be aware of the problems that can happen.
You see, a lot of the time when an agency has been with a certain brand or team for an extended period of time, they end up with more knowledge than the internal brand itself. Particularly, if the relationship has lasted over years or even decades. There’s a number of factors that can create a quite sticky situation, including:
- Agencies tend to have less turn-over on major accounts, than their brand/marketing counterparts.
- Marketing teams don’t always have the technology or support to ensure all assets created, are put into a library for future use.
- Contract terms may not contain specific clauses to work product ownership of the assets.
- Agencies can forget to send final assets or revisions, with little to no contractual consequences.
- Marketing teams may be unaware of the agency owning certain aspects of the asset produced (pictures, videos, etc.)
That’s why it’s best to prepare yourself, and your team for the RFP process and potential transition. Because even if you stick with the incumbent agency, it’s just good practice to go through and review the process, contract, and expectations.
The mistake has been made typically, prior to any RFP or potential transition
I say this because as a new person walking into a marketing procurement role, you may not have insight into the past that awaits your arrival.
You see, when you decide to go out for an RFP or to transition to a different agency, the agency could subsequently withhold new and old assets.
But what does that mean? That video shoot from five years ago, your brand team can’t use it now. The sizing of a product logo or picture into web format, banner ads, social media ads, etc. isn’t stored anywhere within your company.
So moving these things to a new agency for usage, becomes quite the problem! You can’t update a logo if you don’t have the original file to work from. Not to mention, starting from scratch can be quite expensive.
You may end up having the agency-produced asset/work-product held for ransom!
Now, I do not agree with or condone this behavior by any means. That said, if the contract doesn’t specify it, nor does the marketer request it, then you are up a creek my friend. They have every right to hold it hostage for an additional fee for rights usage and transfer.
Or at least, that’s what happened to me. There was no way for me to know that the transition cost would then be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars – for work we had already paid for. And let’s just say that didn’t sit well with the brand, management, legal, or anyone else involved in the situation.
What steps can you take in Sourcing/Procurement if you think there is a potential for this issue to occur?
- Review current contracts prior to any RFP or transition. Make sure you understand any work-product-related clauses or sections.
- Sit down with the brand to understand their final product transfer process. I.E. Is the agency required to send a final version once the project is complete? Where is it stored? Is the process consistent across all brands and agencies?
- If you/the brand team feels like there is a potential for a hostage situation, ask for a complete download of ALL assets PRIOR to the release of any RFP or notification of any kind.
- Update all contracts, to contain penalties for non-transfer of final work-product.
- Cross your fingers and pray you don’t end up in a similar situation to me!
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