Why we locked our Director of Client Services in a cupboard
“So, guys…” James grimaced as he spoke. “...The name...”
He’d only been in the door five minutes. But our new Client Services Director was asking to change the name of the agency. And the worst thing about it? He probably had a point.
Friendship sounds like the name of episode three, season four of Playdays. It sounds like a vegan nursery. It sounds like Kanye’s West latest idea for saving the world. Once, I told a neighbour what we were called and she actually said:
“Aww, bless you.”
So yeah - we’re aware of the vibe we’re giving off. But, as we patiently screamed to James, through the door of the cupboard we’d just locked him in, the reasons for our name are more complex than they might first appear.
Advertising is about creating emotional connections. And who do you have emotional connections with? Your friends. So far, so obvious. But we like to think it goes a bit deeper than that, too. You’re insanely honest with your friends
Despite popular opinion, marketers are extremely careful not to lie to their audiences. People would sue them otherwise. But - whisper it - the marketing industry is still largely built on dishonesty. A conspiracy, even.
It goes like this: the client asks the agency for bland work. Not outright, obviously, but they amend anything interesting into oblivion. Then slowly, over time, the agency starts delivering bland work first time. They call it “getting to know the client.”
This work won’t offend anyone. It also won’t make anyone smile. Make anyone think. Make anyone… anything. And the agency knows this. But in meetings, they mumble something about it being a conservative market, and nod along when the client says that their audience isn’t sophisticated enough for real advertising.
Many agencies survive off this mentality: that their job is to get things approved. But it’s not. Their job is to help the client connect with their audience. And failing to honestly appraise the work that your client is putting out, so you can take the money and run, is lazy at best.
Real friends are honest with you - even when it’s awkward. So while we might sound like an agreeable bunch (and we often are), we’ll always tell you exactly how we feel about the work you’re putting out, and help you to improve it. That’s Friendship.
You respect your friends
We shouldn’t have to have this conversation - but we do. Sixty-six years since Ogilvy told everyone that “the consumer isn’t a moron”, marketers still tell us their audience is too stupid to understand clever ads.
Here’s the thing - if you underestimate the people you’re targeting, you’ll create bland, mindless things that nobody will ever remember. If they’re well targeted, they might perform OK in the short-term, but they’ll never help you to build your brand in a meaningful way.
With that in mind, we always try to create things that challenge audiences, expand their worldview, and maybe even change their perspective. Most of all, we treat audiences with the respect they deserve. Yes, even if they’re gen Z.
While we’re here: if your marketing doesn’t make people feel something, it’s not marketing - it’s just expensive admin. So instead of worrying about what everyone else will think, and amending your work until it sounds like a popular phrasebook for non-English speakers, tell your audience something new.
Remember that some of the conversations you have with your friends would sound outrageous, or nonsensical, to everyone else. That’s one of the things that makes you friends. And it’s one of the things that makes us Friendship.
You pick up the phone to your friends
There we have it - an incomplete list of reasons that we’re called Friendship. If you’re still here, something about the above touched you in the feelings, so get in touch with James today. If it goes really well, we might even let him out of the cupboard.