How do you breathe new life into the client-agency partnership? Especially when the business environment is an unforgiving jungle, if economic doom and gloom forecasts and anecdotal evidence from marketers and agency heads are to be believed.

Through our Oystercatchers lens we see extraordinary things going on. And for sure, the new global market dynamics are putting stress on agency-client relationships.

In timely fashion, we took this issue to our most recent Oystercatchers Club evening with a stellar panel of business leaders including Paul Pomroy, CEO McDonald’s UK; Catrina Funk, VP, European Brand & Marketing Director at TJX Europe;; Louise Fowler, chief customer and marketing officer for the Post Office, and Claire Molyneux, global chief transformation officer for Publicis.

Our Club venue, the May Fair Hotel, was packed with a splendid turn out of senior CMOs, brand owners, media owners, agency heads and industry influencers including the press. IBM, Camelot, House of Fraser, GSK, Experian, ITV and Disney were a just few who joined us.

Suki chaired our debate in her inimitable fashion – diving deep into agency-client relationship models, challenges, opportunities, sensitivities and all.

No surprise, the discussion was frank and robust. Our key take-aways:

“Marketers: be brave and bold” Paul Pomroy

“Account managers are the key people who can translate our business to their creative colleagues” Paul Pomroy

“To foster innovative and creative ideas you have to allow people to fail without fear of losing their jobs” Paul Pomroy

“Be more swan”, show up gorgeous, outrageous, calm. Be bold and fresh” Catrina Funk

“Let’s get the fish on the table”: frank and open confrontation with agency and client to thrash out problems and find solutions – fast. Cat’s second secret to successful partnership

“Breakdown in communication is often down to a poor brief and that’s on the client” Marketers need to know what a good brief looks like – identify their priorities and be able to judge good work. Louise Fowler

Claire Molyneux, global chief transformation officer for Publicis, said that the group was working hard to break down internal siloes to focus on creating great customer experiences for brands. She added that it was increasingly important for both clients and agencies to bring “new and diverse skill sets” to the table when working together.

Without exception, the panel agreed that, ultimately, the key to success in the working relationship lies in trust, the ability to challenge each other openly, caring about each other’s business, being passionate and having mutual respect.

Please click here to read news around the Club evening from Marketing Week, Campaign and The Drum

A big thank you to our brilliant panellists and all our guests.

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