Teaching Clients Wrong

In at least two of my units throughout my marketing degree I’ve been asked to develop a marketing plan as a piece of major assessment. This degree, for the most part, and particularly these units, is designed to teach people how to be marketers. Or as I prefer to call them; clients.

But in both cases, the assessment involved putting together a campaign. Any assignment that said, “We’ll get our advertising agency to develop and build a creative strategy” would have failed, Instead, students were required to develop creative (as the client), and in most cases without any kind of strategy.

Coming from the arrogant advertising side, is this not giving students the wrong idea of how things work?

Do these students go on to become that client who gets way too involved with the creative? Or comes up with an idea early on and pushes it from the start? Or perhaps they’ll simply be unwilling to pay for strategy because they’ve never heard of it before?

Anyway, I think the way marketing is taught is the reason to blame for poor client behavior. Ironically, the poor campaign that results is usually blamed on the agency.

And on a side note, I wonder if media peeps have similar feelings.

No Comments
  • James Duthie
    Posted at June 10, 2010 10:57pm, 10 June Reply

    Nope. The uni's teaching methods are perfectly justified. Advertising is just one facet of marketing. And there's probably more 'clients' in Australia working without an agency than those that do. So they're preparing students to think for themselves, which is exactly what they should be doing.

  • Stan Lee
    Posted at June 10, 2010 11:10pm, 10 June Reply

    Are you turning into me?

    I seem to remember a comment I left a long long time ago that you were confusing marketing with advertising. Guess that's no longer the case.

  • Zac Martin
    Posted at June 11, 2010 10:00am, 11 June Reply

    @ James Duthie

    Disagree. Every case study we look at, example company we put together a marketing plan for and even the type of jobs they want their graduates in are big players; the likes of Kraft, Mars, L'Oreal etc. who would never do their own advertising.

  • Lachyw
    Posted at June 11, 2010 11:57am, 11 June Reply

    Tragically, the reverse is not true for agency folk (especially creatives). At no point do they seem to have been educated in how a strategic marketing plan comes together (and what it must consider).

    You could just as easily argue this is the source of much poor advertising.

  • Zac Martin
    Posted at June 11, 2010 12:11pm, 11 June Reply

    That is a solid point. Do ad schools teach students about marketing?

  • Stan Lee
    Posted at June 12, 2010 1:23am, 12 June Reply

    Do ad schools teach students about advertising in the 21st century?

  • Anonymous
    Posted at June 14, 2010 9:48pm, 14 June Reply

    Don't be peeved because you only got a Credit.

  • Zac Martin
    Posted at June 15, 2010 9:46am, 15 June Reply

    Actually, despite my dislike for said institution, I'm smashing out HDs these days.

  • Bill Feutrill
    Posted at June 15, 2010 1:32pm, 15 June Reply

    I think you've touched on a valid point. No longer are agencies seen as trusted advisors, but more service providers. And vice versa – agencies look at marketing teams as having no idea about creative execution of an idea. The truth is probably that agency-client relationships have seen such a rise in distrust that crossover communication is fairly limited. Agencies are seen to take advantage of the any situation to cash-grab. Marketing teams can drop agencies as soon as they don't like something the CD said to their wives at the Christmas party. Very rarely do you see true collaborative efforts developed out of a well designed marketing plan through to final execution. Each person and team is possessive over their own slice of the pie and wants their own internal and external credit.

    Does this come from education, a stigma from agency glory days or simply too many egos in a pot – not sure, probably a combination of all.

    Is it a fair argument to have a permanent agency staffer stationed within the marketing team to tighten the relationship? I think absolutely. Until agencies are seen as an extension of the marketing team, communication breakdowns (in the communications industry)will thrive.

  • Zac Martin
    Posted at June 15, 2010 3:02pm, 15 June Reply

    Bill, you win the award for Most Interesting Comment 2010. I think I'll follow this up with another post.

  • Adam Jaffrey
    Posted at June 21, 2010 1:01pm, 21 June Reply


    You talk about strategy as an important component of marketing. You even spoke about it on my blog. Sure, creative is a highly important component of any campaign; but doesn't strategy fall short in most circumstances?

    I've seen far too many advertisements in which you could insert a different product for it to have the same impact. These ads are not unique to the product they're attempting to sell. This is a fundamental failure of marketing because marketing aims to "add value", which it is clearly failing at.

    My question to you then, is: how can brands effectively link their product/message/brand value into a great creative? How does this "strategy" you speak of take place?

    Adam Jaffrey

  • Zac Martin
    Posted at June 21, 2010 1:13pm, 21 June Reply

    I don't have the answer and there are far smarter people out (who are actually planners for a start) who could do something better than this.

    But I think a solid brief developed from good strategy will produce effective creative.

    Something like…

    Unique product attribute/benefit + Consumer observation = Insight/Human Truth

  • Jason Tsitsopoulos
    Posted at July 3, 2010 4:40pm, 03 July Reply

    Can I just throw this one out there even though I'm a couple of weeks late…

    Advertising, strategies, and creatives are especially much more creative in Asia and Europe (Western)… FACT!

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