Barclays and OMD UK reveal essential elements of client/agency relationship

Tom Corbett and Suzy Ryder were interviewed by IPA President Julian Douglas

In a filmed interview with IPA President Julian Douglas, Tom Corbett, Global Head of Sponsorship and Media at Barclays and Suzy Ryder, Chief Digital Officer at OMD UK, reveal the core components of their mutually beneficial, commercially successful client/agency partnership.

The film is borne of both parties’ signing up to the IPA/ISBA Pitch Positive Pledge, of which the focus is on making the process more intentional, accountable and responsible for both advertisers and agencies. It also draws on the core findings of the recent IPA white paper, Partnering for Growth, commissioned by the IPA that outlines the key characteristics and contexts that can create long-term, mutually sustainable client/agency relationships.

In the wide-ranging discussion - from why Barclays went out to pitch in 2017; to how they approached that pitch; to why they decided not to re-pitch the account five years later - the film uncovers the essential elements that Suzy and Tom agree are imperative to the success of the Barclays/OMD commercial partnership.

The essential elements of Barclays and OMD UK’s partnership

  1. Shared foundations and agreed guiding principles at outset
  2. Transparency and clarity on expectations and scope of partnership
  3. Annual reviews, regular evaluation and course correction to ensure principles are still fit for purpose
  4. Ensuring the best talent works on the account
  5. A value-based, fair model
  6. A governance-approach with teams committed to ensuring the agreed values and commitments are being met
  7. Understanding of strengths and weaknesses – clarity on capability and how the proposition may be changing
  8. Face-to-face interaction
  9. Instilling operational rigor and measurement into running the account – including deploying third parties to measure and evaluate the partnership to see how both sides are performing
  10. A proactive approach to learning and development to ensure all evolving client needs are met

Expanding on some of these areas, Corbett explains that there are a number of non-negotiables for Barclays when working with an agency. These include complete transparency in all trading practices within the agency; full audit rights so that they can follow their money from A to B anywhere within the agency; a commitment from the agency to not make any undisclosed income as part of their partnership; and a contract with the holding group itself so as not to get lost in large agency models. In return for meeting such expectations, Corbett explains that "Barclays is committed to fair payment and to value that service in the right way."

Says Suzy Ryder, Chief Digital Officer at OMD UK: "If you have a fair contract, anything is possible. You could extend that partnership for many years to come as there are various clauses in the contract that allow us to ensure there is a regular dialogue around whether the scope is still relevant and whether the resourcing and shape of the team are still right based on changing needs. Having this makes a huge difference to us an agency. There’s a moment we can have those conversations and be heard, that all links back to the principles we committed to as a collective."

In summing up what the industry can learn from this partnership, IPA President Douglas says:

Listening to this example of a mutually beneficial client/agency partnership really brings home the importance of setting out intentions at the start of the pitch.

Julian Douglas, IPA President

"And of pitching as you mean to go on. In many relationships how they evolve over time is largely set from how they start. Beyond this, we can see there is need to continue to invest in the relationship to really achieve partnership for growth. As Barclays and OMD have demonstrated so successfully."

Watch the full interview:

Last updated 07 December 2023