A Note on Fear

Following on from Friday's post, I wanted to pick up on some of the comments noting Agencies' 'fear' of losing clients - and how counterproductive this can be.

Fear is an essential human response. If we didn't feel it, we couldn't protect ourselves from legitimate emotional or physical threats such as Tesco burgers or promiscuos older ladies at Christmas parties. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death.

I think back to when I was an intern, and the immense fear I had everytime I got my Director a coffee (presented head down with a subservient cower of course). I'd stress about whether I'd made it too weak or too strong, and if my googling of 'what is a macchiato' had resulted in the correct answer at all. If stories of him were true, should the drink not allign precisely with his high expectations, he would surely fire me.

Fortunately for all I quickly learnt how to make good coffee - then shortly after that fear wasn't a very desirable quality to have as an employee. If ever he was going to brief me on anything other than hot drinks, I needed to stop being such a bitch and grow a pair pronto.

Fear is never a solid foundation for any healthy relationship - business or personal. 

You don't buy your partner flowers because you're scared she'll leave you - but because you love her. A dog shouldn't fetch a stick for its master because its afraid of being beaten - but because it enjoys the game.*

Isn't it better to build from respect and common goals, rather than fear and obedience?

And to finish, what better than a succinct quote from a clever bloke;

"He who has overcome his fears will truly be free" - Aristotle

* please dont read too much into these examples and what are clearly my unresolved issues.


  1. Ding. You secret word. Respect.

    As an industry, we've dug ourselves into a hole far below respectability and are going to have to kick a great deal of ass before we can reach it again.

    Our fall from proverbial grace can be attributed not only to the agencies racing to say yes to the next inane and meaningless request, but to the holding companies that made the business less about effective work and more about the bottom line.

    Example: If I'm IPG or Publicis or their ilk, I want my agency to make X amount of profit. If that means doing shit work, fine. The agency churns out cheap work and the client becomes fed up. If I'm IPG, I'm not concerned. I have hundreds of agencies that will pitch the business and one is likely to win. My bottom line doesn't change. Just who's making their quota.

    On a related note, if I were a client, the first necessity of my RFP or whatever would be that I did not want an agency held by a holding company. Period.

  2. Another thing which can be said about agencies is that besides them being owned by holding companies, their business model has changed as well. Back in the day, agencies billed on how many ads they ran. Now they have to bill the client the hours. So the agency heads are never interested in selling good work quickly. They want it to be shite, so that the client wants improvements to be made. The agency happily obliges and writes up the extra hours.

  3. So true. Being on a level playing field with a client and having mutual respect is the only way to go.

  4. Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Ben Franklin

    R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Aretha Franklin


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