The average agency website or creds presentation will always have a ‘client’ page where they boast about the brands and organisations they work with. It would be fair to say that some of these stretch the truth a bit, encompassing the FMCG brand the agency produced a one-off standee for and the Blue Chip firm they last worked for in 2005.
But I’m increasingly coming across agencies that aren’t allowed to publically admit that they work with a particular client. I’m not just talking about awards entries or agency creds – they flat out mustn’t be linked with the brand in question in the media.
I once went for an interview at an agency I thought had a fairly uninspiring client list – only to discover that they also did a lot of work for a mega famous worldwide entertainment brand but weren’t allowed to talk about it.
It doesn’t really help any agency’s reputation or profile when they’re unable to talk about their biggest and/or coolest clients, and as a freelance I have a similar problem. The agencies I work with are reasonably OK with me discretely admitting that I work with them – but for obvious reasons don’t want the world to know which of their top clients are being Planned by a Planner who is technically not on staff.
The actual clients I do come into contact with don’t seem very bothered that I work with rather than for a particular agency, but it still means that I can’t really publicise my own work. My CV is full of vague references to ‘leading FMCG brands’ and ‘high profile retailers’ and my LinkedIn profile is even less specific. I suppose it’s a good job I’ve got an honest face and that other agencies seem to enjoy playing ‘guess the client’ when I show them my CV…