Joe Chetcuti, MD of Front
Front

Member Article

Joe Chetcuti – MD of Front – on why COVID-19 has reaffirmed a sense of community in the creative industries.

I’ve found a number of things heartening in these trying times; epecially in the way that many clients and suppliers have all rallied around to support each other. A reaffirmed sense of purpose, transparency, respect and communication has helped get us through the last few weeks. This I not just in the sense of positive words but in real actions.

Just take that perennial bugbear, budgets. Often budgeting for projects is a bit of a complex dance between pitching, negotiating, arm-twisting, and finally settling on an agreed outcome. I can’t be the only agency head who has, at some point, cried, ’just tell us the budget!“. However, over the past few weeks clients and suppliers have been far more candid and quick to communicate what budgets they could work to. This refreshing clarity, honesty and pragmatism has provided a much-needed change to the usual budget wrangling. This, so far, has given us the confidence to carry on with a purpose. Without this new-found mutual transparency things may well be have been very different.

Next, respect. Maintaining mutual transparency with objectives in mind is a pretty natural place for all of us to be with our clients. Often it takes time building trust to actually get there though. What is clear is that this rediscovered respect creates an even greater sense of mutual support across the client agency divide. All too often I have pitched to potential clients who, due to having fingers burnt on numerous occasions, have an unhealthy disregard for agencies. The lack of respect is shown in the way that budgets, objectives, motivations and purpose for pitches need to be guessed at.

Equally, agencies have burnt client fingers with inflated promises, unachievable objectives and their own over-inflated self-belief. It’s a death dance that once you’re in is hard to end. But let’s hope that the positive nature of mutual respect continues and starts to erode bad practice across the board. Wishful thinking maybe, but we have to be the change we want to see.

Along with transparency and respect it was reassuring to know that clients and suppliers were simply there to talk to when we needed it and we reciprocated. Knowing that care was being taken to communicate as soon as possible was a great support. It left us the time to focus on getting the job done right and caring for our own team.

There have been clients who have asked us to reduce our costs for potential projects or asked for proposals without giving a target budget to aim for. The kind of guessing game that does no-one any good. Now is not the time to see what you can get away with.

If anything changes after we’re all back to ‘normal’, and things must inevitably change, then I hope its ongoing and greater transparency, support and mutual respect between agencies, clients and suppliers.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Front .

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