Volvo has been a client of mine for the better part of a decade. They’re nice people. They have a great product and a wonderful brand. My commitment to them even extended to driving their cars for the past 5 years (Even though I’m never been a huge car guy, I absolutely love my Volvo XC60).
There have been a lot of changes at Volvo lately. Ford sold them to Geely. Stefan Jacoby became CEO. And they created “Team Volvo” with a few trusted agency partners. With huge goals (double sales by 2020), they clearly have a lot to do. But there’s one thing they didn’t do:
They didn’t fire the agency.
Far too often, new clients come in, look at the situation they inherited and immediately fire off a request for proposals. This is never a good thing for the incumbent. New people, new goals, and new strategy usually means “new agency”. And while most responsible agencies hunker down to participate in the pitch, it rarely works out. The writing may not be on the wall, but it’s certainly imbedded in a PowerPoint deck somewhere along the way.
Volvo didn’t do that. They respected their agency partners for their intellect not for the work that had been produced in conjunction with clients who also preceded the new regime. As Jacoby stated, “The work is as good as the brief and our agency hasn’t had a good brand brief to work from for some time.”
Changing agencies can be tough for a business. Critical months can fly by as the old agency winds down and the new one ramps up leaving the client with few partners who truly understand the brand or the legacy of it. Combine that with any internal changes and it’s a recipe for disaster. Besides, I just don’t like the relationship implications of it. While many brands treat their people with respect, there aren’t many that extend that to their partners. What does that say to your new agency? Hell, what does it say about the brand? It’s kind of like cheating n your wife. It doesn’t say much about you but it certainly says a lot to your next wife.
Compare this to Mr. Sub debacle last year. Even though Mr. Sub approved and aired a campaign, they fired their agency, Bos, when consumer complaints started coming in over it. Not cool. They threw their agency under the bus for something that they participated in themselves.
The sub people can learn a lot from the Volvo people. How you treat your agency says a lot about how you treat your customers.
I remain loyal to Volvo and I use my consumer vote to never eat at Mr. Sub. Has anyone got the number for Subway?