February 17, 2009

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

Filed under: Client/Agency Relations — Joe Grant @ 8:51 pm


Dump_TruckAn agency owner friend called the other day to kvetch about the merciless way a long-term client dumped  him. The client called the agency late at night to avoid a conversation and left a terse voicemail message terminating a 5+ year relationship. Ouch.

Reminded me of a few other agency firings. . .   

· Some years back a Phoenix agency got word by fax that their biggest client was finished with them. Not even the decency of a phone call.

· A major airline had their agency working on a new campaign for over a month, and then while the agency team was driving to the client’s office to present it, they got a cell call that the meeting had been cancelled and the agency was being terminated. Just like that. They turned around to go back to the agency but instead started a very long lunch quite early that day…

· There’s a story about a client who arranged a big “thank you” boondoggle for their agency at a warm-weather resort, wined and dined ‘em for a couple of days, and announced at the end that the whole thing was their way of leaving a good taste in everyone’s mouth since – surprise! – they’d hired a new shop.

· I worked at a place where a friendly competitor called me to get the dope on Client X. . . because effective the 1st of the month they were being named X’s new agency. We had no idea we were about to get the ax.

· And there was that afternoon back in Cleveland when the agency I was managing had a very bad day: we got the word within a couple of hours that we’d lost two accounts, Loctite (glue) and Draw-Tite (trailer hitches). Since then I’ve made it a point to have nothing to do with any account with “tite” in their name.

Then doing one of our client surveys a few years back (where we interview agency clients to learn how the agency can improve their service and products) a certain retail client told us we had to tell their agency it was fired. We demurred and told them to do it themselves. But we immediately gave the agency a highly transparent message that they’d soon receive some very unpleasant news.

Well, what the hell – it’s only business. The heartbreak won’t last that long…

Your 2 Cents

Got any dumping tales you’d like to share? How should it be done?



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1 Comment »

  1. Joe: My favorite dump story: Large CPG account. Had it for several years. Company president loves us. Brings in new marketing director (now you know what’s gonna happen). Surprise! Marketing guru calls after 5pm and leaves a voice mail firing us. Our COO gets the message and calls me at a kid basketball game. I call president of company and demand a meeting which he grants in two days. Early, early morning meeting. We enter the room. President and Marketing director enter room. President says to me: “I can honestly say your company is the finest in its class, you have done great work for our company, I can think of no other company that can do what you do better. However, we are going to make a change.”

    Are you kidding me? Of course, the marketing director only lasted a few months. Onward and upward.

    Comment by Billy Price — March 6, 2009 @ 4:28 pm

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