What are your boundaries when it comes to client culture and the type of clients you would represent? And would you have the courage to maintain those boundaries if the client represented hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual fees? How about millions of dollars?
How much do you care about client culture?
Would you be willing to represent Harvey Weinstein following his rape and harassment allegations? Sitrick and Company does. How about Bill O’Reilly following his sexual harassment claims? N.S. Bienstock Agency did. Would you be willing to create campaigns for the NRA or the anti-gun group Americans for Responsible Solutions? WPP did both… at the same time.
Would you take Russia as a client? Ketchum did. Would you work with the brutally repressive regime in Qatar? Levick does. Would you be willing to sow and inflame racial discord in South Africa to benefit a wealthy client? Bell Pottinger did, and it put the agency out of business.
We all have different thresholds for what an acceptable client is. I could spend days droning on about all the reasons I enjoy working at GroundFloor Media (my explanation usually begins with, “Great colleagues, great clients …”,) but another reason is that I have never had my boundaries challenged about who I am willing to work with.
Staying true to client culture
We turn down business that we feel is inconsistent with our culture, and our culture is that we work with the good guys – Children’s Hospital Colorado, Bellco, the Colorado Department of Human Services, the Mountain West Conference, Craig Hospital, IMA Financial and The Tennyson Center for Children, just to name a few.
We have also terminated relationships with clients that don’t live up to our values when it comes to behavior and/or ethics. I see lots of companies make that claim, but GFM is the only agency I have ever seen actually do it.
We are far from perfect. In fact, we make our share of mistakes. However, we hold fast to our values and client culture when it comes to choosing – or maintaining – our client partners. This is by no means revolutionary. It is simply good business.