Annette King: The way that we see Oystercatchers is very much as a partner. We work together to provide what clients need and I think with Oystercatchers there’s this sort of triangle of client-Oystercatchers–Ogilvy. In my experience, we’ve never been lined up against a client that we couldn’t do a great pitch for and we couldn’t be great partners for and I think that’s one of the great strengths of the relationship with Oystercatchers because I always think it’s a genuine opportunity when we’re invited to take part, versus sort of filling up a list.
Annette King: The relationship we have with Oystercatchers when it comes to pitches is very much a partnership. It feels very much like we are being invited to take part in opportunities to work with new clients where we have a real chance of winning, where there’s been real thought put into whether we might be a good match for that client. I rarely feel that I’ve got to think too hard about whether to say yes or not to take part in a pitch because a lot of that thinking has already been done for me in terms of matching us, what we’re good at and what we’re capable of, to what the client needs. It doesn’t mean we always win, but it always means that we start off with a good chance, which isn’t always the case.
Annette King: In terms of the value that Oystercatchers give to the agency, I always feel that we get very direct and very clear feedback. Nothing is spared! It is served up exactly as it is, which is incredibly useful and there’s no point telling us anything other than the truth, even if at certain stages of the pitch it might not be 10 out of 10, or might not be exactly what we want to hear, it enables us to then address the issue. There was one example a couple of years ago where we had been lined up to pitch for something and the partner at Oystercatchers made it very clear to us that he thought we were a really good match for the client, but the client’s perception of us was that we were at the end of a list of agencies. They told us that going in and it was a fantastic input because it meant that we could use that in terms of how we approached the pitch and the very first meeting. I’m happy to say that we went on to win the pitch against seven other agencies, because of that very first piece of very clear direction that the partner at the Oystercatchers gave us.
Annette King: In terms of what you do for client, I think the Oystercatchers really listens to what the client is saying. That might sound like an obvious thing to say, but I think you often get to the very heart of what it is that they’re looking for, and you hear what it is that they want rather than making assumptions or getting it slightly wrong which can be disastrous.
Annette King: I think the Oystercatchers club is a great idea and it’s unique in its approach to trying to add value to agencies and clients. It’s also fun and interesting and the event that I came to, the inaugural event, had some really interesting clients at and three really interesting and very different from each other presentations. One of those was Rory’s presentation which obviously I thought was very interesting, but I also thought the other two were very interesting and have applied some of what I heard from both of those presentations to my own business so that was helpful in that regard and I think we’ve also had two if not three of the clients there ask for follow up sessions with Rory, for him to come and talk at their board meeting, or at their marketing conference, or at their team meeting which is great because that’s how you get to know people and that’s how, from a networking perspective, it’s great added value that the club has directly generated. I think it’s a wonderful new addition to the line-up of what the Oystercatchers does.
Annette King: I would definitely recommend you. I would do that on the basis of the pitches and the evaluations that we’ve worked on together already, and I would say that I think you’ll get the best value from Oystercatchers and the most honest process and partnership as a result of that. I think the client’s more likely to end up with the right agency than with some other intermediary’s.
Annette King: I think the biggest challenges for us and all agencies in 2012 and beyond is probably going to be economic. Budgets are, if not squeezed, more tightly scrutinised than perhaps they have been in the past. At OgilvyOne, we are an ROI based agency so everything that we do, we measure. We tend to fare a little bit better than agencies that perhaps aren’t quite so ROI based because we can always prove if something’s working or not, and if it’s not working then we can always shift quickly. I think as an agency with data as its heart, that’s going to stand us in good stead over the coming years as things get tougher for all clients. I think one of the other industry challenges is the continual blurring of lines around what agencies do. They used to be so much clearer when there were buckets of specialism and these days there’s more of us that do more integrated work which on one level is very exciting and on another level it’s harder to know who does what.