A few nights ago I watched an interesting programme on one of our terrestrial channels called Dispatches.
It was all about the top bankers getting paid astronomical wages. The reason for them being paid astronomical wages – well, they were self governing. In each of these banks there were non-execs appointed to the board as the guys who would use their time to look into the wages of the top guys. However, this is where the problem was. The non-execs and the Chairman of whichever bank it was all knew each other, and it would be likely that if one non-exec were to curb the wage rise, then the same would happen to him at his place of employment.
And, some of these guys had around 4 or 5 no-exec positions. Basically this accounted to around 2 days work a month and an annual salary of anything between £70k and £150k!
Further to this, they all had huge pension pots, again agreed by each other for each other. Now they can all walk away from the banking crisis with their tail between their legs, but a huge wad of cash stuffed into their wallets or purses.
Now all this got me thinking. Does this go on in my industry?
Lots of people know each other well. Meetings everywhere. eCommerce Directors have mates at agencies. Start-up agency’s that the MD used to work at the client. Marketing managers that have worked at 6 different companies but have only ever used 1 agency. Hmmm…sounds similar doesn’t it.
I have come across this on numerous ocassions – for example, a few months back I had a marketing manager say to me “I am going to pitch, but I don’t know you, so you won’t be involved. I have worked with two of the chosen agencies and a friend recommended the other.” Obviously, I won’t be divulging who said it, but I was quite shocked by that. Especially as we were perfectly placed with experience of that particular sector and I could rhyme of 101 successes that relate. I also looked up the lucky agencies and noted that they were nowhere near as suited for the job. Actually, only the one that came recommended from the friend had the inhouse capabilities to do what they were looking for.
However, am I just being cynical and in a bad mood as we didn’t get in to pitch for something I knew about?
I don’t think so. In my time in digital marketing it has become apparent that this can certainly be the way of it. People take care of other people. That’s good human nature actually, and I admire it. “An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness” by Elbert Hubbard.
It may not be the best for your company though. What you have to do if you are holding a pitch, is look at which agencies will give the best fit for your brief. Not the other way around. For example, I have a mate who is a draftsman. I would not approach him and ask him to design my dream house (sorry Dougie). I am sure he could do it and maybe even do it well, but he is not an architect.
Do we dictate each others wages? Yes we do, by the quality of work we produce which is constantly pushing the barrier. I don’t think that jobs-for-the-boys affects us so much. There only seems to be a small band of them doing it. Although, check out the bankers – there was only a small band of them doing and it brought their whole system down. Now I am paying for it in more ways than I thought.