What do Richards Group and Merkley & Partners have in common?

Answer: spurned partners who just lost pieces of business. And neither one of them will be defending. Richards lost Red Lobster to Grey. And Arby’s just dumped Merkley & Partners.


No one wants to lose something. We’ve all been there! It’s all part of this crazy agency business we all can’t help but love. (Well, for the most part…) And in the “for what it’s worth” category, you gotta respect agencies who read their situation and decide not to defend. They might actually have better chances leveraging that experience in different ways.

While I’m bummed for both of these agencies, it sparked…the need to discuss a strategy that has come in handy every so often. And I was wondering if you have used it, too.

When you know the incumbent won’t be playing, have you ever given them a friendly call?

If you haven’t, you might want to consider it. Here’s why:

  • Make a friend. You don’t need me telling you this is a relationship-based business. It never hurts to get to know another body at another shop. Ya never know what, where or who could lead you to the next gig. In fact, should you decide to call someone who works on the business that’s leaving, that could be the fate of the soul you’re speaking with on the phone.
  • Get some skinny. There’s no telling what you’ll learn. Your conversation a chance to understand some of the brand’s challenges. And get some terrific insight into who these prospective clients are as human beings. This is the kinda stuff that can really drive what and how you pitch.

If you find that the person you speak with is less hesitant to talk with you (after a proper warm-up), then not to worry. You’ve at least tried to make a friend. And this alone may be help you in the future. Happy pitching!