As a freelancer, 90% of my work comes from Yorkshire agencies – and it’s a small pond up here. There are probably only eight agencies capable of handling seven figure accounts, half of whom specialise in shopper marketing and/or retail. So the big FMCG and retail clients based up here tend to split their work among them. Which means there is a heck of a lot of client overlap, client conflict and inter-agency musical desks that goes on. Most people in the Yorkshire agency scene have worked on Asda, Morrisons and/or DFS at one point or another.
The problem is when it comes to freelance support – and it works both ways. If a freelancer (creative, digital or planner) has just been working on Morrisons, then they probably shouldn’t be working on Asda. And likewise you can’t have a freelancer working on Asda simultaneously across two different agencies.
But what about when a freelancer is working on Retailer A for one agency, then gets asked to work on Different Unconnected Client B for another agency – who also work for Retailer A? Where does conflict end and simply an expectation of professional behaviour begin? As you may have guessed by now, I’ve just missed out on a long and juicy freelance planning gig because of the above example.
I honestly believe that if agencies want the best fish in a small pond, they (and possibly also their clients) will have to be a bit more flexible about who they’re swimming with. After all, if the trusted partners, agency-and-friends model is the way forward in delivering client’s needs, surely we’re allowed to share friendship groups?