Clients Come First

a burger
Cheeseburger with Lettuce, Tomato & Onions by Pink Sherbet Photography

Recently, a friend asked me “Why’s it called Echo-Factory?” I didn’t know so I went to my boss (and co-founder of the agency) for an answer. She said it’s to remind us that advertising is about serving clients, not serving ourselves. Too often, agencies and people (like me) forget that.

Earlier this year, Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B) split with Burger King  after working together for seven years. Known for its aggressive marketing style, CP+B came up with some really crazy stuff for Burger King such as the Facebook campaign, “Whopper Sacrifice”  that encouraged people to “sacrifice” their friends for a free Whopper, and the “Subservient Chicken” online campaign which featured a chicken that does whatever you tell it to.

The ad industry praised CP+B’s work for Burger King – they won a ton of awards. So, what happened? All this award-winning work got a lot of people talking but it didn’t convince them to actually eat at Burger King. In fact, BK sales went down by 3.9% last year. See, that’s what happens when you forget to put the client’s interests before your own.

In CP+B’s case, Burger King had come under new management and was asking the agency to focus on price rather than schtick to sell burgers. On his blog, former agency partner, Alex Bogusky

, guessed that CP+B had decided to end their relationship with Burger King because they had too much “creative integrity” to do what BK wanted them to do. Translation: They didn’t want to do work that might not add to their trophy case.

While I admire CP+B’s ability to walk away from the $300 million partnership with BK, I’m not sure they did it for the right reasons. After all, isn’t the point of advertising to help your client get results? And, if the creative work you’ve been doing isn’t working, isn’t it time for a new approach?

If there’s anything we can learn from CP+B, it’s that creativity shouldn’t get in the way of results. As advertising professionals, we have to remember we work for clients. They pay us a lot of money, not just to be creative, but to help them meet their objectives. There in lies the true definition of creative integrity – creating work that will help your client succeed, not just you.