Brands Seeking New Agencies

Just as eharmony and are to singles looking for partners, Setup helps brands seeking the right marketing agencies. In its recently-released survey of more than 300 marketers representing brands and agencies, Setup found that 30% of respondents said they were likely to switch agencies within the next six months. This is the third such annual survey the Atlanta-based company has conducted.

Pandemic Effects

Setup’s conclusion from this last survey is that the pandemic has helped speed along assessments of which brand-agency relationships were and weren’t working. Although the sampling was small, many large brands and agencies were queried. Brands included IBM, Warner Media, Regal Cinemas, American Cancer Society and Georgia-Pacific. Some of the agencies surveyed were Morrison, Razorfish, Modo Modo and Asira.

Another brand polled was NCR. A spokesperson said the pandemic forced them to adjust more rapidly. The technology provider said they had to be more agile to help their clients adapt more quickly to market demands. In turn, they expected their agency to do the same. One result was that the brand also shortened its planning cycles so they could pivot faster.

Agency Aspects Have Changed

When Setup launched its survey, what was important to brands seeking agencies were attributes like agency awards, team seniority, client relationships, and specialized capabilities. Chemistry now ranks number one among those polled. Professionalism, cost, and creativity continued to remain high as well. 

Like with a singles matchmaking relationship, chemistry between the brand and its agency is paramount. There are three key factors. Communication is the foundation. Also important is an understanding and appreciation of each other and the business, as well as a true sense of partnership. 

Brands want their agency to understand their business before inquiring, and to behave like a strategic partner. Agencies, on the other hand, wish clients would understand their bandwidth and be more patient. A third of marketers want their agencies to have greater communication and transparency. More than half the agencies agreed about transparency and communication. Better and active listening skills on both sides, in addition to being more open, can improve these relationships.

With most people quarantined during the pandemic and flocking to digital platforms, an agency’s digital expertise rather than awards and seniority had higher priorities among brand marketers. What also stood out in the latest survey was that brands are now more open to launching new initiatives and with greater frequency. Setup’s survey also found that while marketing budgets were initially cut when the pandemic began, most were restored shortly afterwards.

A representative from Hunter Boot USA, another brand surveyed, said agencies often get caught up in being creative. She conceded that it’s important but doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t generate results.

Summer Peabody, its PR & Marketing Manager, said brands are begging agencies to research and better understand their clients as well as ask relevant questions. She said she wished agencies would better communicate on reaching shared business goals.


Brands unsatisfied with their agencies might employ some of the advice offered here. Similarly, agencies with clients who don’t appear to be totally satisfied should do the same. The consequences of not doing so aren’t very appealing.

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