The Agency Reviewed in Advertising


Being in the advertising industry it’s quite common to have a less than positive attitude towards the clients we serve and dedicate our waking hours to. Phrases like “the client is dumb” have been heard in the halls of advertising for as long as advertising was around.

It’s common to be aghast when clients spew vague oxymoronic wisdom and expect the agency to continue the discussion and explore their direction of thinking without first going to the bathroom for a puke, the bar to get drunk and home to our mothers to spill out our hearts and tell her how we hate our lives. I’ve seen quite a few junior executives go through this phase and when their superiors cast the first stone, their uninhibited inner thoughts from their subconscious comes out and torches the client like a mindless dragon that just escaped from a dungeon seeking revenge.

Then after a year the agency gets reviewed and the whole account goes into a toss.

When we, the people from the agency side put in the hard work and long hours and not seen success, it’s understandable to be frustrated, it’s also understandable to lash out at our clients who are supposedly the ones who brings us much pain and suffering. In this highly emotional industry, It is understandable, but it’s also unhealthy and career limiting.

Have we thought about the conversations happening on the other side, the client side? What do they say about their agency? Let’s simplify the agency review into a scale of five stars and see what they could possibly mean.

Disclaimer: I’ve never been on the client side. The following are purely from my imagination and of my own opinion. Any resemblance to real events, real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

1 Star

How did my predecessors decide to engage this agency? I’m perfectly fine that they are late on their deliverables, but avoiding me on calls and not replying my emails only later to tell me that the deadline had to be pushed because of some vague unfathomable reason when the deadline had already passed is just unbelievable.

Not only do they not seem to have basic common sense, they also don’t seem to understand the words coming out of my mouth. I rather do the work myself than to pay them another cent to make my life even more miserable than it already is. My blood starts to boil when my phone rings and I see the agency’s number on caller id.

2 Stars

I believe my briefs are clear, but why do they always come back with all this super lame my-grandmother-can-have-a-better-idea type idea. I’m really curious how our brief was translated to the rest of the extended agency. Seriously copying epic split and old spice was not the brief, I wonder if they even have any insights at all. Do they even know what my marketing objectives are?!

They can execute, I give them that and I can even forgive them for that once in a while mistake or delay, but I seriously think I’m paying too much for just this kind of execution. There is simply no leadership, we need to tell them what to do along the way. They still have the cheek to pressure me to sign new quotes whenever we meet. I’m looking forward to work with a new agency.

3 Stars

My agency is ok and I think agencies are generally all the same. They work hard at times, they slack at times, they deliver most of the time according to plan, but they do miss some deadlines as well. Sometimes they give us all their attention, but sometimes they also seem to be busy with other business, so that’s not so nice.

The senior strategic people seems to be appearing less, leaving all these junior executives to take care of our business.

But when we do get the good senior strategic people in, things move along fairly well, but when they don’t get so involved things either become less strategic and becomes more executional. At times I give them some briefs just to keep them on their toes and challenge their ideas.

4 Stars

I love my agency. They get me. They know what is important and I can genuinely feel that they care for our brand and our business while having a good grasp of the market and our consumers. At times when we are not too sure of the way forward, they will workshop with us, make us focus on the more important things and collaboratively we work something out. The outcome tend to be good and sometimes simply brilliant.

The awards we have won because of this partnership is evidence that it’s a great relationship that’s working well. I understand that such agency reviews are necessary but honesty lets just extend their contract already.

5 Stars

My agency is a unicorn. Their employees are all supermodels and available 24/7. Every meeting is like a date and my heart will always skip a beat during these meetings and they are the absolute highlight of my day.

They send me their proposals before I send them the brief and the best part is we don’t need emails as everything is done almost telepathically. Not only do we win all possible awards we enter for, my agency charge me only a nominal fee and most of the time the work is pro-bono.

They take all my verbal abuse when I’m bored and just need to shout at someone. They counsel me when I’m sad, throw me parties, run my errands and collect my laundry too.

I love my agency. I love them more than I love myself.


Of course the last bit is an exaggeration because supermodels need their beauty sleep so its not possible to be available 24/7 and telepathy have not been invented yet.

Ok ok ok, in all seriousness, If you are working in Advertising and have read thus far, I urge all of us to not think that “the client is dumb”, instead look at ourselves and ask ourselves if we are proud being paid by our clients for what we have done for them?

What value have we brought into the relationship? What leadership have we shown? How much time have we invested in knowing our client’s business and understanding the things that are keeping them up at night? Is it just a client-vendor relationship or is it more of a partnership? The list goes on…

We are in the business of communication. We have the power to shape minds and change perceptions. We have the power to build brands and start movements. We have the ability to create art filled with science. We have the ability to be a catalyst of good and to influence this generation and the generations to come.

So, in the grand scheme of things, the stars our client gives us don’t matter, what matters is how we approach our craft which results in the quality of the work which then results in the stars our client gives us. So care for your client’s business and do good work and I’m sure you and your agency will be stars.

3 years of #GoingOut

3 years of GoingOut

Time flies. Its been 3 years already since our very first #GoingOut photo at our lift lobby. It started as a let’s do something fun while we wait for everyone to be ready to go out, then it became a let’s see who is last, then it became a let’s take a different pose, sometimes we are just waiting for the lift, then slowly it became a regular thing.

It’s really nice to see our kids progressively growing up. I can’t imagine how they will look like 10 years from now.

Quite fun to look back on what they wore on different days as it gives a hint on where we were going, also its clear not every day is a happy day. Sometimes someone don’t want to wear a pair of shoes, someone step on someone’s feet, someone have yet to wake up, but the best is when all are in high spirits and I get a good picture.

3 years of nickpan's GoingOut photos

Once I hit 5 years, I think I’m gonna print all of them out, exhibit it somewhere or maybe create a microsite for it. For now, if you wanna have a look, you can see them either on my Instagram or on my public Facebook album.

I’m glad we did this. Pls copy this idea and do it for your kids too starting today. :)

Our Journey to Singapore Lindy Revolution 2015

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Clarisse, Pearl, Nick and Melody Singapore Lindy Revolution 2015

For those who do not know, the Singapore Lindy Revolution 2015 is a major Lindy Hop event in Singapore. Pearl and I got hooked onto Lindy Hop since last Christmas and we have been taking classes seriously since Feb ’15. Now 6 months after, we are somewhat ready to attend the SLR15 together with all the dance workshops conducted by multi world champion International Teachers.

Our teachers were Max & Annie, JB & Tatiana, Todd & Laura, Nicolas & Mikaela and to make it even better, the Gordon Webster band and Hetty Kate will be providing the amazing swing music for the parties every night.

Roti Prata and Mee Goreng with the Gordon Webster Band at 2am
Roti Prata and Mee Goreng with the Gordon Webster Band at 2am

My SLR15 journey started a little earlier as Desmond Khoh the event organiser is also my Lindy Hop teacher and is also a close friend of mine, so I helped out to ferry the dance teachers and the band to their hotels, joined them for dinner, brought them to MBS and even brought the Gordon Webster band out for Roti Prata and Mee Goreng at 2am. The weekend started fantastically on Thursday.

Nick and Pearl at SLR15
Nick and Pearl at SLR15

Pearl and I simply love swing music. Back in our Uni days, Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, the whole swing and big band music is what we love. Only until recently because of Desmond did we get to know about Swing Dancing / Lindy Hop. We dressed up for the 3 night parties over the entire weekend.
Our Lindy Hop Classmates

The first night’s party was themed “Hellzapoppin” and this is one of the most famous Lindy Hop videos on YouTube. Have a look and you will know why.

So we are to be dress as cooks, waiters, postman, etc. I came as a cook with a simple apron. Pearl wanted to come as a waitress and brought an apron along as well, but I think she looks great without the apron, so I guess she can be the guest of my restaurant. lol.

The music was great and the teachers were introduced. Just looking at the teachers intro alone, we knew its going to be an amazing weekend.

Later in the night, there were many shenanigans. Have a look yourself. lol. Thanks to Anthony Mak for all this videos on YouTube.

Make sure you see the other crazy midnight dance battle as well. lol.

Day 1 Lessons with Max Pitruzzella & Annie Trudeau, JB Mino & Tatiana Udry
Day 1 Lessons with Max Pitruzzella & Annie Trudeau, JB Mino & Tatiana Udry

Day 1 lessons, we started intermediate dance workshop with Max and Annie in the morning. The class was fairly big and there were people from several countries that flew down just for Lindy Hop.

I have to say Max and Annie’s class was pretty technical as they taught a semi big combo routine which had simple steps and also some new steps with style. The amazing thing is that they look all professional, but they are very nice and friendly people.

With just about 20mins of lunch time, we started the next lesson with JB Mino & Tatiana. They taught us some very important fundamentals of Lindy Hop. Connection, Feeling the music, mixing Quick step, Slow steps and Triple Steps.  Very useful for us as that really helps with our dance vocabulary.

Dressed up for the big party
Dressed up for the big party

After classes, we went home, looked at our kids for a brief moment, had our dinner and started dressing up to get ready for the big party that evening. I’ve not worn a vest in ages and don’t you think Pearl’s outfit + hairdo rocks! So so cool.

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Our Teacher and Lindy Hop Inspiration Desmond Khoh

Arriving at Le Danz where the event was, you can see everyone dressed up really nicely. The ladies looked smashing and the guys looked sharp.

The Gordon Webster Band feat Hetty Kate
The Gordon Webster Band feat Hetty Kate

The Gordon Webster band is simply amazing. I’ve bought almost all their albums already and still can’t get enough. Hearing them live was even more amazing. Managed to have dinner with Jesse and Brandi earlier in the week and also managed to spend sometime with Gordon, Andreas, Danny and Jack over prata. I’m intrigued by the life of musicians and here in the flesh are super accomplished musicians. It was great talking to them and I really appreciate their honest sharing of their musical journeys.

I wanted to take  pictures with everyone but somehow did not manage to get a photo with Brandi, so took a picture from my friend Pamela’s Instagram account.

The evening was great. There was Jack and Jill competitions, Showcases and the teachers performed too. Here are some really awesome videos from the nights.

One of the best evenings in my life.

Day 2 Class with Todd Yannacone & Laura Glaess
Day 2 Class with Todd Yannacone & Laura Glaess

Day 2 lessons started with lots of aching in our Calfs and Thighs. Everyone started the class already tired from the previous days full day of dancing, but I think the passion pushes us on.

Todd & Laura allowed the class to social dance for a while and observed what we did then gave the class an option to voice out if there are anything specifically we would like to learn. In my mind I wanted to learn Texas Tommy variations, but wanted to see if anyone else had ideas too. No one said anything and just as I was about to voice out, Todd suggested Texas Tommy Variations. BOOM! Amazing. Loved the class.

OMG Charleston Variations
OMG Charleston Variations

The next class was with Nicolas and Mikaela and at this point everyone is already super super tired. My legs were jelly already and guess what, the class was on Charleston Variations where we knew there was going to be lots of kicking and jumping/skipping. OMG…

Day 2 Class with Nicolas Deniau & Mikaela Hellsten
Day 2 Class with Nicolas Deniau & Mikaela Hellsten

We started off the class with some basic Jazz dance movements, got into the basics of Charleston and they taught us some 8 and 6 count Charleston exercises and I think it a real valuable lesson. We did some combo moves then ended the class with stretches and sitting around practising some musicality. Great class. My current dance idols and you can’t help but smile when you see Nicolas and Mikaela.

After class, we were super super tired, rushed home and slept for a while, our legs really had an extreme workout for a weekend.

There was a dance party again at night, but we managed to arrive there at about 9:30pm only. It was a “shorts” themed party, so everyone came dressed down.

As usual the music was great and mid way thru the set, Gordon Webster dedicated a song to Desmond and Pamela knowing that they will be getting married in a few weeks time. Of cause the couple had to dance.

Such a beautiful way to end the weekend.

Overall, really really Awesome job to Desmond, Jingyi and Taufan for organising and pulling off this amazing event.

many many steps taken at SLR15
many many steps taken at SLR15

We got home and when I was on my bed I recalled that all the time when I was dancing, I had my phone in my pocket, this means that the pedometer on my iPhone would be able to tell me how many steps i’ve taken over the last few days. I took out the iOS health app and was pleasantly surprised yet vindicated that the Singapore Lindy Revolution weekend made a mark not only on the app, but also our lives as budding Swing dancers.

We made so many new friends and started viewing all the videos and photos coming thru the event page and reliving the weekend again.

If you want to learn how to swing dance, check out Strictly Lindy SG on Facebook, maybe there will be taster classes announced there.

Looking forward for more dance classes and social dancing. See you at SLR16.