Balance, the importance of good vs good.

Marc Ashwell
3 min readJan 2, 2021

In the industry of marketing, advertisers and agencies there seems, to some, to be a battle between 2 forces — agency & client. Two sides of the same coin.

On one side we have agencies. They’re typically fight for creativity, the idea(!) and something a little more than what we’re comfortable with.

On the other side we have brands, or advertisers. They have a focus on results; sales or leads, brand uplift, net promoter scores and favourability. Generally an increase in market share.

In a healthy environment these 2 sides of a the marketing coin are not dissimilar, but rather a balance that allows the coin to land on its side every now and then (a 1 in 6000 chance*), a sign of marketing excellence, something special that actually worked. Brand gets the uplift and the results because the agency created work that was distinctive, creative and did the right job.

But, the danger is when the coin is out of balance. the chances of success don’t weigh in the odds of 50/50 (the worst a balanced coin can give you). Your chances become seemingly random.

This happens when agencies and advertisers don’t align, or seem to position themselves as the enemy instead of the team. When agencies shoot for vanity or when advertisers shoot only for the metric. This lands us in a space where any idea seems like a risk, where ever brief seems like a constraint.

It’s a place I’ve seen often enough. It’s about now that the agencies whip out the “be brave” rhetoric to try and convince advertisers to do work. Unclear of what it will reap, advertisers push back with “but it just doesn’t feel right’. This is not unfamiliar or particularly interesting space to be in. At best it’s frustrating, at worst it’s damaging to agency/client relationships. But, is is clear that something needs to be done.

Agencies need to understand what it is advertisers need to get right, and why. What do these marketing metrics mean? Why are they important and what effect do they potentially have on overall market share.

Advertisers, in turn, need to embrace the ideas put forward by agencies and look for ways to make them work, rather than for reasons to crush them.

Both need to step down from their predefined roles and look at the job that really needs doing, realising that neither is an expert at each others’ job. Advertisers didn’t study to be creative; to write or to design or tell beautiful stories. Similarly, many agency creative teams didn’t study the effects of SOV on SOM or the relationship between brand assets and mental availability.

It’s when either side has an understanding (and respect!) for the other that we get balance. We get clear roles with clear outcome which means we land on the edge every now and then.



Marc Ashwell

Marketing Professional. Problem Solver. Not saving lives.