Should agencies be responsible for DTC success?

you-are-responsible-1aKEY TAKEAWAY: While some consumer marketers are asking their agencies to share in “success” metrics pharma, for the most part, is still treating some of their agencies like vendors instead of strategic partners.

McDonald’s made news this week by announcing that their advertising agency would be graded and compensated based on brand success metrics.  While this is somewhat of a radical approach it suggests that brands, and marketers, are finally going to hold agencies accountable for the advertising that they develop.  However, are pharma managers willing to allow agencies to control their marketing?


By far the biggest complaint I hear from agency people is that their hands are often tied in the development of DTC marketing, both on and offline.  It can often take months for an agency to convince a client to take a certain path to make their DTC marketing relevant.  In addition, most pharma companies are matrix organizations which means that decision making is not centered on any one person or department.  The effectiveness of an innovative DTC initiative can often be the result of an agency’s ability to convince managers that a certain tactic/creative will work.

The best DTC campaigns are usually the result of a good collaboration between an agency and key organizational influencers. DTC campaigns that are “way off the mark” can be attributed to a DTC Director who is either more concerned about his/her job or an agency that just sees the client as a source of revenue.

CEJCB4 Health
CEJCB4 Health

DTC marketers have to be able to open up their brand, and all its research, to their agency.  Only when an agency fully understands the why, who and how can they develop a solution to a patients’ problem.  When they are tasked with developing a spot than what the client will get is just that, a spot consumers ignore.

Here are some suggestions to leverage a better agency/client relationship:

1ne: Have quarterly agency integration meetings to share updates on research and share what each agency is doing for the brand.

2wo: Develop an agency intranet to share relevant information and creative concepts.

3hree: Demand that the agency is treating your brand like an “A” client.

4our: Have agency reviews on a regular basis to discuss what was done right and what could be improved.