When should agencies say 'no'?

The customer is always right, right? Hmm, it would certainly make life easier if clients were always right and their demands were always fair. There are some occasions when agencies have to say ‘no’, and turn their back on pitching for new work or attracting that ‘new client’ – but when and why?

Case in point.

The ‘once’ multi award-winning airline – Royal Brunei Airlines (winning just earlier this year for the 2018 TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards for Airlines) is now struggling to find a PR Agency in the wake of the Kingdom enacting controversial laws.

(ICYMI - The issue erupted in early April when the Kingdom’s long-serving ruler Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, put into force draconian interpretations of sharia law, which include death by stoning as a punishment for gay sex and adultery, and amputations for theft.

In response, A-list celebrities, businesses and governments began boycotting companies owned by Brunei, notably including The Dorchester Collection luxury hotels and Royal Brunei Airlines.)

Many agencies have joined, a now social campaign, boycotting the company and washing their hands of ever aligning their agency with the work. Why? Well for many reasons:

  1. The realisation that in terms of positive PR or ‘spin’, there isn’t much room for manoeuvring when it comes to trying to distance the nation’s flagship carrier from the highly contentious laws being enforced in Brunei.
  2. Knowing your audience. The target audience – predominately middle-class, 30+, well-travelled and open-minded - are progressive and forward-thinking and are appalled by what Brunei is doing. It would be "nearly impossible" for any agency to help sell Brunei as a travel destination in the wake of the backlash.
  3. A culture clash/difference of values - Many agencies are careful to only choose clients that reflect their own vision and values and align with the culture of their agency. Why would you want to work with a client that doesn’t share your values and brings you little or no joy?

At RNN Comms, we believe our relationships with clients should be built on trust and integrity. We buy into the company/product and support it 100%. Also, it is important that there is genuine chemistry between the client and the agency. We love working with our clients and deliver the best work when thriving on new campaigns and brands that genuinely excite our team and allow us to get bold with ideas.

When should agencies say no? If the fit isn’t there and the client is not giving off good vibes.

For more information on RNN comms visit: www.rnncommunciations.com