Tiger review and i-level demise show reality of agency-client relationships

Agencies and clients often talk about their relationship as partnerships although an uneasy truce might be a better way of describing many of them. Recently there’ve been a couple of small explosions from the front, London digital agency i-level going into administration after it lost its biggest account, the UK government’s Central Office of Information (a subject we’ll return to) and Asia-Pacific Breweries deciding to review its Tiger Beer regional account at Saatchi & Saatchi.

Tiger says it needs a review because it has to ensure that its creative work remains fresh although even the harshest judge would surely agree that it is, standing comparison with the best beer creative work anywhere.

Accounts move for a multitude of reasons of course: account handling problems, cost-cutting, the appointment of a new marketing director keen to put their stamp on things or the creative director running off with the client’s wife. Oh, and rotten sales of course. Few of these find their way into the bland press release that is reluctantly issued.

It’s interesting to note that Saatchis is re-pitching for the business (against the WPP threesome of O&M, JWT and Y&R plus mainly digital agency Iris) which is usually a waste of time and money. Except when you note that Y&R handled Tiger before it moved to Saatchis in 2007. If the agency managed to retain cordial relations with the client over the intervening period, which presumably it did, then it has a good chance of winning the business back. If you don’t repitch you can write off this medium term prospect.

Here’s a Tiger ad (hope it’s by Saatchis, it’s set in the Far East anyway) You be the judge of whether it’s fresh or not.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.