Richard Bleasdale
Jun 28, 2018

The most successful agency-marketer partnerships drive category-beating growth

Marketers and agencies that focus on partnership deliver growth that is consistently better than the norm.

The most successful agency-marketer partnerships drive category-beating growth

Now in our fifth year of the Agency | Marketer Partnership Awards, and having reviewed an increasingly diverse range of global, regional and local market relationships across integrated, creative, media, digital and PR disciplines, what have we learned?

The most powerful learning is that the marketers and agencies who focus on partnership are delivering growth which is consistently better than the norm in their categories and their key competitors.

Typical quotes from winning partnerships consistently evidence powerful performance:

  • “Achieved #1 position in 13 out of 15 markets”
  • “50% year-on-year increase in sales”
  • “35% increase in sales conversions”
  • “Brand preference climbed to a score of 50%”
  • “On the strength of campaign orders, increased monthly production by 250%”

2017 Multi-agency Gold Award winner Guinness credits its work with Iris Worldwide Indonesia as helping to improve both sales and brand scores by creating ann impactful campaign around a shared objective of “meaning”. This hard evidence of the power of partnerships is something from which the whole industry can learn.

So, what does it take to embark on a successful partnership strategy?

At a granular level, the partners’ behaviour needs to change. Key success traits we see for Marketers include being prepared to take calculated risks, embracing their Agencies as business partners, and playing firm, but fair. Key success traits for Agencies include thinking at a business level, beyond the brand; being digitally passionate and encouraging client collaboration.

Such traits are exemplified in the nine-year partnership between 2017 Single-agency Gold Award winners Moët Hennessy Diageo and Ruder Finn China. The partnership, which began as a remit for one project, has since expanded to handling 12 different brands. Through growth-driven collaboration, the scope of work has gone far beyond traditional PR to include strategic planning, media communications, digital and social, KOL and celebrity relationship management, event management and consumer activations.

At a performance level, we are seeing successful Marketer/Agency partnerships focusing on critical success factors such as empowerment, transparency and honesty, joint ownership, accountability, process efficiency, shared goals, appreciation, seamlessness, mutual growth and fostering a learning culture.

The most successful partnerships are actively measuring how well they score against these partnership success factors, implementing coordinated strategies and tactics to improve their performances against these factors.

Through our ongoing work in Observatory, we have been able to establish benchmark scores for Average and Top 25% performing Agency/Marketer partnerships in Asia Pacific – these are now accessible for any Marketers or Agencies looking to embark on a stronger partnership approach.

So, as we enter the fifth year of the Agency|Marketer Partnership Awards, and now armed with support from the World Federation of Advertisers, by shining a light on the most successful partnerships, we can clearly see the direct link between partnership and category-beating performance.

And to remain reflective of the partnerships being built in the industry, we have this year updated our Multiple Agency/Discipline category to include Publishers and Platforms as partners who can be considered.

We look forward to reviewing more outstanding Asia Pacific Agency|Marketer partnerships in the coming months and continuing to celebrate the best-performing partnerships across the region.


Richard Bleasdale is managing partner, Asia-Pacific, with The Observatory International.

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