What “Client Service” Really Means

Dan Wieden made a speech to the wing nuts who work for him before W+K moved to their new offices in Portland’s Pearl district.
I’ve read it before, but today I read it again.
W+K puts “the work” first and it shows. The work comes before the client/agency relationship and before the people who do the work.
Wieden describes why this makes sense:

In big agencies, the client/agency relationship is the most sacred thing. The difficulty seems to be that the work then serves the relationship, and everything becomes political. And when things get political, the work suffers. And when the work suffers, the business suffers, then the client agency relationship suffers, and you suffer.
And when we say the client/agency relationship is second to the work, that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Because the work is a direct reflection of the quality of that relationship. If it is strained, the work shows it. If people are having fun, it shows. If people are bleeding, it shows. If people are just trying to turn other people on, it shows.

In other words, when you put the work first, the people who do the work and the clients who buy the work are happiest. Thus, a logical argument can be made that putting the work first actually means putting people–inside and outside the agency–first.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.