More to the point, I’d probably hire them.
The agency I’m talking about doesn’t exist, to my knowledge. It’s an agency that is absolutely open and honest. It’s like a blogger, in that it admits its mistakes (Lord knows I have), and is prepared to talk about them.
This is the agency I recently ‘created’ in a recent in-house exercise. We decided to be the ‘brutally honest’ agency that was perfectly capable of saying not just what it liked about a prospective client, but didn’t like.
This ran through everything we did. We developed our ideas on a wiki and delivered them to the imaginary client, warts and all. We scanned our notes in from our brainstorming sessions and pasted them as images. This included comments from team members about products made by the imaginary company that we didn’t particularly like. We even created imaginary ads placed in PR Week, with some publicising pitches we’d lost – “We didn’t win the pitch for X because of Y and Z. We’ll do better next time.” – and pitches we’d won.
The idea was that we were so open, transparent and honest, we showed prospective clients our work-in-progress and shared our failures and successes with the industry. The idea caused a lot of debate, and whereas we didn’t ‘win’ the internal competition, it made people sit up and take notice of a fresh approach.
As a prospective client, I think I’d believe this more than any team that is ‘excited’ about the opportunity to work for me, and which wheels out fanatical enthusiasts that happen to be knocking around its corridors espousing my virtues. I’d be suspicious of any team that seemed ‘uniquely tailored’ to my requirements. If I were, say, a guitar manufacturer, I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be talking to a team of guitarists.
Then again I’ve never hired an agency and, as I said, we didn’t ‘win’. But what do you think? Should agencies be more honest? Not that I’m implying they’re dishonest, but honest as in showing more of the whole truth rather than ‘a truth’? As a client, would you value ‘real’ feedback? Would you think this is courageously transparent, or needlessly unprofessional?