In business, as in life, there are relationships. There are beginnings, middles and unfortunately, in most cases, there are endings. In advertising, it can be the ending of relationship with a vendor, a team member, or a client – each one takes its toll on the emotional fabric of the creative process. For me, this has been the hardest part of advertising – the end.
In the immortal words of Michael Corleone, “It’s business, never personal.” But when you pour your heart into what you do, immersing yourself into the work and the success of those you work for, well, it is hardly ever that simple.
While no one ever wants to be on the tail end of being let go, canned, dumped, or fired, it is a reality that we must all face at one time or another. More times than others it’s due to poor communication – the Kryptonite of all human relationships. Sometimes it’s simply time to move on. One thing I have learned though, is that it is always best to be the one coming to this reality first. There is nothing worse than a relationship proceeding longer than it should. But how do you know when it’s time to move on?
Look, it’s never easy to break up with anyone. I get that, trust me. I think I still may be officially dating a few people from 1992. At that time it was easier to just stop returning phone calls when things got complicated. As a grown up though, it requires a little more tact and realization.
To begin with, you have to take a hard look at the promise you made at the beginning of the relationship. Have both sides met their end of the bargain? Has one side grown while the other did not? Have expectations changed along the way, and have those expectations been communicated?
In advertising it is rare that an agency will ever turn down money for work, but here is the moral to this story – you have the wrong agency working for you if they have never told you no. Yes, we are in the business of listening to needs, and executing visions, but we are also in the business of advertising – the reason we were hired in the first place. This expertise is why an agency is hired, and if their advice and recommendations are no longer listened to, then it is time for that agency to move on. When you become a strict order taker, you no longer serve the greater good, and in the end, you will fail. Often this is realized after the fact, and when results are not obtained, the relationship ends badly.
It’s not easy, but if you can you should be the one to realize the problems within the relationship before it moves beyond fixing. Remind yourselves of what you both entered the relationship for. If both parties no longer remain on the same page, well, then it may just be time to say goodbye.
The Russo Group