Client marketers and agency executives may move in the same world and see themselves as part of the same industry, but the realities of working client-side and agency-side can be as different as chalk and cheese. Whereas at one time the two would have enjoyed long (liquid) lunches and a prevailing sense of camaraderie, now both are under much closer scrutiny.
The power balance in the relationship seems to have shifted toward the client and the divide between the two environments is becoming especially apparent in today's economy. Brands are under pressure to provide flawless customer experiences at low prices, in competition with digital disruptors, while agencies are fighting for every pound of investment in an increasingly complex ecosystem with more and more middlemen.
So what does good leadership look like in the contexts of today's transformed client-agency relationship?
How do marketing leaders inspire their own people and their suppliers to work in commercially effective and professionally fulfilling ways? How do agencies look after their talent while constantly delivering value in the increasingly pressurised pursuit of serving their clients? And is there any sense now in which marketing and agency leaders can pull together, to their organisations' mutual benefit?