I’ve never been prouder to own an independent agency, but we need the support of ‘big retail business’ like never before.
I’ve been running an independent marketing agency, working in retail for over twenty years and I’ve never felt so fortunate to be in charge of my own destiny and the people that work for me. Rather than shareholders telling me what I have to do, I know in these unprecedented times, I can do what’s right.
I’m attune to my social and corporate responsibilities and I’ve already seen numerous other independent agency owners across all disciplines from PR to creative doing the same. I hope by talking about some of our initiatives we can all share ideas to protect the people of this country. But when we’re doing all we can without big behemoths behind us like the networked agencies surely, we should command and see the same behaviour from the retail brands we work with?
As a sector, industry and business which is all about its people, the commercial focus for us is ’not for profit’ and any revenue we are able to generate is for the sole purpose of keeping staff employed, paid and proud to call us their employer. From large and small independent agencies across the UK I’m hearing similar and heartfelt messages to employees ‘we’re in this together’.
Gekko is operating with a ‘People First’ approach but what about the global retail businesses we work with? At what point do we as an industry call out brands for their behaviour? Or are they allowed to get away with it because us independent agencies are scared that we’ll never get work with them again?
Like hundreds of agencies big and small across the country we’ve seen clients pulling campaigns and budgets overnight. While I recognise that in the short term retail outlets are closed and e-commerce has slowed down surely global corporations can take a more generous approach and support their suppliers as best they can? Primarily honouring the pay of their account teams dedicated to their brand by scaling down spend rather than switching it off, paying a proportion of the fees for their next project and banking the time or sharing agency team cost to aid cash flow.
I’m not saying that retail businesses should do this above looking after their own staff and businesses, but this is only a temporary situation and we have to survive together because we’re going to need each other when we come out the other side. Businesses live or die by the power of their brands, this value often driven by us marketing folk.
Diageo has recently announced a $1m pot to help its on-trade customers through these difficult times so it is possible to commit to the supply chain. But I, like I’m sure many other agency owners have seen both sides of the coin, incredibly supportive retail clients and those that quite frankly have shirked their moral duty and are failing workers who thought they represented a decent, honest brand.
Unscrupulous brands who turn their back on their responsibilities, relationships and partners are the brands that need to be called out. When they act in this manner, they also fail the consumer as the brand values they portray in their marketing are the antithesis of the brand values they trade on. As you can probably tell I’m trying not to yell a name and shame but when your retail brand turned over billions last year, it’s kind of incumbent on you to do your bit and support not turn your back on the agencies who work hard for you.
By Daniel Todaro, managing director, Gekko Field Marketing