If CMOs Can Rate Agencies, Then Marketing Directors Should Be Rated Too

I always take company reviews I read on Glassdoor or services like TripAdvisor with a grain of salt. Because you never really know who’s behind the review and if they have an ax to grind. Yes, if you take these reviews in the aggregate you can get a good picture of a restaurant or service business, but in the end, I trust my judgment most of all.

Which is why I’m a little wary of this Ad Age story which suggests CMOs are launching a private rating service for agencies.

The CMO Club, a group of 700 heads of marketing, has launched what it dubs a private “vendor rating program” for the purpose of allowing marketers to share recommendations on vendors across 18 product and service categories, which includes everything from creative and media agencies to mobile and analytics firms.

According to CMO Club founder and president Peter Krainik, he often witnessed chief marketers swapping recommendations informally at the club’s dinners and events. “This is us helping people behind closed doors,” Mr. Krainik said of the new program. “We’re connecting people, that’s what the club is all about.”

I’m not privy to the clubby network of CMOs, but what we do know about CMOs is that they tend to play favorites with agencies and personal contacts they have, like to come in and shake things up then quickly leave, and either micromanage agencies or let them bring unique thinking without requesting it. That this rating idea is being proposed in private makes it sound all the more arbitrary.

And when you rate an agency, you’re rating its people. All the people, because the management of an agency doesn’t do the day-to-day work on an account. The work of a junior copywriter could affect a rating. So perhaps someone in the agency world should turn this idea around and rate marketers:

  • What CMOs like to come in, fire an agency, change its marketing, then leave in 18 months to go and do the same thing somewhere else?
  • Which CMOs are primarily looking to enhance their personal brand, not the one that employs them?
  • Which ones empower their lower-level marketing managers and directors to make decisions?
  • Which ones demand great work and then never approve it?
  • What’s their method for evaluating marketing strategy, creative work, or agency costs?

Advertising agency people would love the chance to rate their clients — but just like the CMO Club idea, it could get really petty and ugly very fast. But turnabout is fair play, I suppose.



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for TalentZoo.com and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.