The Dysfunctional Client and Ad Agency Relationship

My good friend, Clive Maclean, recently came across this hilarious video that spoofs the ad agency client relationship as a disrespected vendor.

“The Vendor Client Relationship” is a story that connected with more than half a million viewers in less than 14 days. When a story goes viral, it is finding a truth, touching a nerve or making people laugh. 

Ad agencies, in the tradition of Rodney Dangerfield, get no respect in a variety of ways. One of the most insulting is the devaluation of an agency. I agree with Clive’s assessment, “No other business that I know of would accept this type of customer relationship, yet I believe that we only have ourselves to blame.”

Read the entire article, “Agency Compensation. Hagling over scope and cost!”


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About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. I couldn’t agree more with you Michael… our industry keeps allowing this to happen and in-turn, we reap what we sow.

    The agency that produced this did a great job and really captured the reality between most client / agency relationships.

  2. OK, now step into your media rep’s shoes and look at it… perfectly describes the media/agency relationship.

  3. Good point Mike.

  4. Norman,

    I thought Scoffield did an great job creating this video as well

  5. This is hilarious and oh-so-true. But I’ve been on both sides of the fence and feel the need to chime in with the client comeback.
    [2 clients stand outside $3 taco stand. Agency guy approaches]
    Agency Guy: Hey, you guys having lunch? Join me!
    Clients: Sure, uh, sounds good. We were getting some tacos.
    AG: NO NO NO, you MUST come to Chez Fafa with me for sirloin. It’s SO much better, you’ll love it.
    C: Well, we really just want tacos and can only afford tacos.
    AG: NONONONONO, you don’t understand how much you NEED the sirloin. Trust me, the bill will all work out the same in the end.
    [cut to the check arriving at Chez Fafa…]

  6. Thank you Michael for posting this! It definitely had me laughing. And I definitely agree with Mike’s point above with the media/agency analogy. The driving force behind this is probably much deeper than just agency/client, and more of a societal issue overall. It seems like we’ve been conditioned to expect price reductions or bidding wars for all kinds of goods and services. I guess the bigger question is how to we ‘un-condition’ ourselves from this mentality?

  7. Brandon, I don’t think we’re going to get respect until we stop being generalist and become specialist. That’s when agency’s will stop being treated and paid as vendors.

  8. Just found this post and the hilarious video. As someone who works on the agency side, I’ve had many similar conversations with clients. One thing to remember though is that we should always ask ourselves why a client is treating us this way. Are we doing everything we can to show our value as a strategic partner? Are we being proactive, and offering real solutions to the clients problems, or are we allowing ourselves to become order takers? My colleague had much more eloquent thoughts about this in a recent piece on Client Agency Relationships:

  9. Thanks for sharing the article.

  10. it is very informative for me….

  11. Thanks for sharing good info..

  12. very interesting soundtrack indeed!!!!! thank you. quite pleasant. literally inside my head.

  13. is bernard really passt it. doubt that. who we kidding?!

  14. hmm. i am wondering if you play it in reverse if it shows the agency jacking the price on the client.

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