How tie-breakers might be used in ad agency new business

Recently it was announced Grey won the Red Lobster business. The Ad Age story suggests they might have had it from the very beginning: they already had the other two significant pieces of Darden business with Olive Garden and Longhorn. And, they used to have Red Lobster business in the past. These two facts deliver excellent opportunities for insider knowledge, lore, internal political understanding, internal stakeholder sell-in how to, etc.

Just guessing now, but wouldn’t it also make sense that Grey approach Darden with an increased value offer? That would easily break a tie. This could have taken shape not just in lower agency fees, but a bundling up back-of-the-house services (admin, accounting, etc.). Or even a bundling of work done that shapes the agency’s deliverables. For instance, bundled consumer research up front . Or even on ad execution, pulling together a package deal on food shooters.

So, how would the other agencies competing for the business – Saatchi or Ogilvy or even my alma mater, DraftFCB, compete? Beyond the agency thinking itself and how it’s served up, here’s an idea:

Could there be any win-win partnerships these competitors could have offered when they look across their own client rosters? Which brands share the same target? Which clients might be open to a loyalty program cross-sell? Who might be open to pooling some money together to make a bigger promotional bang? Etc.

Think of the possibilities here! The agencies would lose nothing in thinking through the possibilities. And at the minimum, their existing clients might appreciate the proactivity. Serve those ideas up. And even if you lose, you still might win, as you’re the agency in the middle that can quickly and efficiently execute.

Very easy to arm chair quarterback these kinds of things. And no one but the agencies themselves know what they pitched. But in this God Awful Economy, Sea of Sameness, Yadda Yadda, it helps to think about ways you can bring unique value to the partnership. And break the tie when things are really close.

Of course, if you have any other thoughts, feel free to share ’em! Ciao.