Charles Wigley
Feb 24, 2016

Emperors wanted

What's wrong with a little dictatorial rule now and then? A single, absolute authority might be just what your ad agency really needs.

Charles Wigley
Charles Wigley

A few years ago we used to describe meetings with one of our clients as 'attending the court of the king'.

There would often be a large number of people in the room, and he would ask many of them to speak up with their opinions. At the end of the day though, he was the one who made decisions. The decisions were absolute, clear and final. We did some of our best work with him.

This isn't to say that it was easy. The decisions sometimes felt not entirely logical, even a touch capricious (such is taste). And as much work wasn't bought as was.

But it worked, and the brand prospered hugely.

In this world of 'collaboration' and 'consultation' I think it's easy to forget that what most agencies actually want is clarity and consistency of decision-making.

It gives them a clear frame to work within.

The ideal client is one who has a clear vision of where they want to go with their brand and a pretty sound idea of how they are going to get there.

It is someone who doesn't feel beholden to multiple layers of stakeholders (who are all those people holding 'stakes' anyway?).

It is someone who uses research to understand and inspire at the front end of the process, but not as a crutch to tell them whether it should be 'go or no go' on the work at the back end.

People, at the end of the day, with a clear, confident point of view. People who don't want to delegate their decisions to the consensus view of the meeting room or 'consumer feedback'.

Does this take a level of confidence that borders on arrogance in today's largely matrixed, risk-averse organisations? Yes.

Is that a problem? No.

Charles Wigley is chairman of BBH Asia Pacific



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