Agencies can’t be passive partners

2403ff54-07e2-48d7-9770-98f6ab922d80KEY TAKEAWAY: DTC agencies can no longer just do what clients want, they have to have the courage to tell clients when they are wasting money and when their strategy will lead to ineffective marketing.

Last week, while sitting in an agency meeting with a client in Cambridge, we heard the ad agency’s strategy to launch a new drug for a client.  After the meeting I talked with the digital agency folks and who said that both the online and offline strategies were “way off base”.  When I asked them why they didn’t sat anything they kind of looked at each other and said “well, we don’t want to cause any problems”.  What they haven’t learned is that it’s sometimes out job to create problems.


Given the changes that are coming to healthcare we all have to prepare for executives who are going to question the value of everything we do.  This means that we need to both sell people within the executive ranks as to the value of DTC as well as provide clear and concise metrics to show it’s working.

Let’s also be clear, there are too many agencies giving “lip service” to clients and doing what they say, not doing what needs to be done.  It happens time and time again because some agencies have become passive partners in marketing thanks to high overheads and a procurement department that limits agency choices.


If you’re not willing to “push back” to clients then you have no business in this industry.  Seeing pharma companies as cash cows is no way to run a successful business.   I have, at times, taken some heat because I refuse to be quiet when I see a client’s money being wasted on overseas commercial shoots or on agency expenses like hotels but that attitude has also endeared me clients.

It’s time to speak up. If you lose business because a client is asking you to do something wrong than that’s a risk you have to be prepared to take.