This one of our favourite topics and the conversation did not disappoint. We wanted to find out from the panel what they as marketers and agencies really, truly look for from each other and what makes or breaks a relationship.

We had one of the most honest and frank exchanges of views for some time. David Wood, Tesco’s UK Marketing Director; Pete Markey, Chief Marketing Officer RSA Group; Nigel Gilbert, Key Project Director, Virgin Management, and Moray MacLennan, CEO Worldwide, M&C Saatchi told it like it is – warts and all, no holds barred. The finer detail of how high profile pitches were lost and won; personal anecdotes on how campaigns flew or crashed with the CEO; the truth behind how bad news is handled across teams –  all was laid bare for discussion.

Our panellists, led by moderator Suki, went off piste only on the proviso that the debate operated under Chatham House Rule.  So, without breaking confidence, here is our snapshot of key insights shared by some of the smartest operators in our business:

It’s a business partnership

“The business has changed – the sense of empowerment that agencies had in the golden days has gone. Agencies must understand that communication is part of a much bigger picture – and understand the business”

“I look for an agency who understands both the business and brand challenges”

“Agencies must understand the financials”

“Awards are the icing on the cake. They make your people feel fantastic, but the most important thing is to deliver the business”

It’s all about the people

“You hire agencies because you want to work with really smart people”

“I surround myself with the best people and I’m prepared to pay for that”

“I chose the agency because it was a great team – all supported each other – there were no awkward moments”

“You have to deliver good quality people on both client and agency teams”

Criteria for success?

“Chemistry, chemistry, chemistry”

“Accessibility is critical”

“Treat it [the partnership] like a real relationship. Invest time”

“The only time a relationship doesn’t work is when people don’t listen”

“You can’t beat old fashioned conversation”