Top Marketers Preach Rewarding Creativity

Two top marketers were blunt Monday on the topic of compensating agencies. Do good work, get good pay, they said.

Russ Klein, former global marketing chief at Burger King, said during his tenure there he boosted fees for agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky because its breakthrough, attention-grabbing work helped sales. "Even with the doubling of compensation, Burger King got its money's worth," he said.

Weight Watchers CEO David Kirchhoff, who joined Klein on an Advertising Week panel Monday, added: "We're always looking for creativity and good ideas." The company is willing to reward agencies if that would-be genius drives dollars. The recent buzz about clients looking to drive down fees may be overblown, since it is not unique, he said.

"There is not an industry on earth, except maybe Google, where you can not expect there's always going to be pressure on your business," he said of agencies.

Miles Nadal -- the CEO of holding company MDC Partners, which owns Crispin -- served as the panel's moderator and indicated that MDC is in line with the pay-for-performance metric. "Instead of complaining, we should ask what can we do differently for our client, and how do we get compensated," he said.



A step away, MDC has a program at agency Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners where each year, employees are given one share of stock in each client, as a motivator.

The "alignment," where employees benefit when a client does, is "very important," Nadal said. The program could be expanded to other MDC shops.

On a matter affecting Nadal -- whether a client should place all business in one holding company -- Klein and Kirchhoff said they prefer to go with the best in class. Whether creative, promotions, PR, digital, etc., they steer toward the right fit.

"I favor individual shops that are killer shops in what they do," Klein said.

Klein also said digital agencies that can keep up with pace of change are in a good position, since clients would be unwise to replicate what they do internally. "The marketplace is moving too fast in digital to try to build a cathedral in-house that you're going to have to tear down in a year," he said.

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