It’s enough to cause terminal cognitive dissonance.
On one hand you’ve got sad but familiar stories like VW getting pulled from Arnold, or Altoids from Burnett, when newly-installed clients bring in old agency buddies. Relationship trumps the work.
On the other hand, you’ve got Bob Barrie and Stuart D’ Rozario taking the entire honking United business with them from long-time agency Fallon, where they created their beautiful campaign. Work trumps relationship.
Or…not? What it’s hard for outside observers to ever know is: did the decision makers at United keep the business with its creators because, bottom-line, it’s about the work? Or were Barrie and D’Rozario, and not anyone in management, the key relationship people?
The easy answer is: both. United likes and trusts these two guys, and appreciates and values their work. And I hope that’s actually true.
But it’s also possible—I know because I’ve seen it—that the United folks have no idea why the work is good. They may have bought total shit work at some earlier point in time and might be capable of doing it again in the future but right now, they believe that Barrie and D’Rozario “get them” and their business and like hanging with them and it’s just a happy coincidence that they can do kick-ass work too.
“Lightning in a bottle” my business partner Matt Seiden calls it. When it happens to you, make the most of it.