Bruno Gralpois, Co-Founder and Principal of Agency Mania Solutions, has been instrumental in establishing Agency Management as a central global discipline for many of the top 200 advertisers, utilizing strategies for ensuring efficient collaboration and driving high-impact results for advertisers and their agency partners. This dedication to improving advertiser-agency relationships has earned him the moniker: The Advertising Love Doctor

Ask The Advertising Love Doctor

Agencies are investing in collaboration and AI software. @Ogilvy launched a software platform called Connect to help employees collaborate. @PublicisGroupe launched Marcel, an AI software and collaboration tool developed with Microsoft. Read more:

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The Doctor’s In

The relationship between a client and an agency is uniquely beautiful and must be tended to just like our personal relationships. At Agency Mania Solutions, we know that client/agency relationships also suffer when partners don’t feel heard or respected, resulting in miscommunication and strain that is often hard to overcome. I’ve devoted my career to making these relationships work and as the Advertising Love Doctor, I am committed to helping advertisers, CMOs and their teams thrive in relationships with all of their agencies.

Whether you are the client or the agency, when you begin to see relationship warning signs, I recommend seeking treatment sooner rather than later. I am here to help diagnose and treat the symptoms – large or small – to put your relationship back on track. Please leave your questions here and I will see to it personally that you get the best relationship advice.  To love and partnership,

Advertising Love Doctor

Making roster agencies collaborate better to produce “end-to-end” deliverables

Dear Advertising Love Doctor,

As the strategic sourcing leader at my organization, I’m always keeping tabs on our competitors’ mix of agencies and striving to find the best roster that not only produce the highest level of work for our brands, but also willing and eager to collaborate as needed to output “end-to-end” deliverables. What best practices can you offer – whether it’s pulling talent from the same parent company or rivals from competing networks together?



Dear Collaborator –

What a relevant topic you bring up, as I just wrote about two packaged good giants P&G and Unilever, both experimenting with new models (with Unilever pooling talent from within the same parent company and P&G bringing rivals from competing networks together). Making roster agencies collaborate better to produce “end-to-end” deliverables is a top priority for most brands, and something even the top agency holding companies strive to do.

There are many variables that get in the way of collaboration, namely: territorial issues among roster agencies, conflicting P&L, confusion about roles and responsibilities and sometimes personality conflicts. I highly recommend advertisers do the following: declare a clear agency model so everyone has a clear role, publish guidelines for effective collaboration, monitor how effective agencies collaborate during client/agency performance evaluations, make sure that ideas can originate from anywhere/anyone, and reward group performance so every agency is operating the same KPIs and is encouraged to win as a team.


Advertising Love Doctor

How long does it take to implement agency management tools?

Dear Advertising Love Doctor,

I’ve had my eyes on an agency evaluation tool and scoping of work/staffing tool for years. I have identified what I believe to be my window of opportunity to propose one or both of these solutions to my CMO. Without divulging our internal buying process, I’m curious to know the typical onboarding timeline, upon approval, in order to be fully implemented by the start of our next fiscal year, April 2019.


Curious George

Dear Curious George –

Sounds like you are seeking understanding around the typical process for our clients’ onboarding process and tool provisioning time frame to be wary of. The buying process for our clients is largely variable due to the specific internal approval process, budgets and business case.

I can speak to the common process and methodology for a successful deployment, AKA the “provisioning phase”, that the brand advertisers that engage with us to build and roll out one of our agency management solutions. We partner closely with our clients to determine and publish a project calendar, highlighting the 5 major development milestones, or phases, as shown below:

– Start Date

– Design and development process

– Testing

– Live Implementation

– Ongoing support

All in all, our implementation timeline ranges from 3-4 months, comparable to majority of off-the-shelf software solutions and faster than most custom software implementations. For your situation, I advise targeting end of November 2018 for final sign-off and December to start the provisioning/onboarding process.


Advertising Love Doctor

To grow or not to grow our in-house agencies?

Dear Advertising Love Doctor,

With the increasing pressures to drive cost savings facing many marketers today, there’s been an ongoing debate with my leadership team around whether we should bring more agencies in-house. Knowing that it doesn’t always make sense, how do you advise we make changes around our current blend of in-house and external agencies, in order to drive better results, efficiencies and more effective use of budgets?


Advice Seeker

Dear Advice Seeker –

This is a very hot topic right now, as many brands go through experimental phases and grow their in-house agency teams slowly and gradually, up to a comfortable cruising speed for their organization, while collaborating with outside agencies.

While in-house agencies are known to be nimble, cost-effective, well aligned to the brand and the strategic imperatives of the business, many brands are challenged to realize the benefits of their in-house agency model or have experienced numerous roadblocks like the ability to hire top talent. So be sure to do thorough vetting as it is critical to find the right balance of internal and external talent to build a top-notch performing organization.

You can even consider options like WPP’s digital agency Wunderman, who launched on-site, “inside” units to give advertisers like Best Buy and Sainsbury’s nimble, cost-effective creative and strategic insights services without the potential tradeoffs of in-house agencies.

With a hybrid of in-house and external agencies, the last piece of advice I can give you is to drive collaboration between the two. At last year’s ProcureCon conference, I received unanimous feedback around this critical need. Look at United Airlines, which is moving video content creation in-house and handling creative content strategy and execution, to complement work the brand does with agencies like McGarryBowen and Wunderman. The roles and responsibilities are clear, avoiding territorial issues that may result from confusion about who does what. And so by aligning together, they are simply stronger.

Hope that helps.


Advertising Love Doctor

Custom vs. Out-of-the-Box Client-Agency Relationship Tools

Dear Advertising Love Doctor,

I am thrilled to say that after months of internally advocating for streamlined and automated tools to manage the work relationship of our marketing and advertising agencies, our priority is to have something in place for next fiscal year. However, I can’t take all the credit. Our leadership recently reorganized and our new CMO is also onboard. While I thought of Agency Mania Solutions first and I’m sold (based on your expertise), my team will want to review options. What case can be made for your company’s custom solutions vs. off-the-shelf software?


Your Advocate

Dear Advocate,

First off, thank you for thinking of us! And hats off to you for aligning leadership around a solution! You ask such a good question, as there’s a case for and against custom software.

Brand advertisers often assume they must conform their processes to the capabilities of pre-packaged software (aka out-of-the-box solutions). As a prior client myself, I can personally speak to that pain point. However, I am happy to report that’s not the case for agency management tools.

Let’s look at the two primary drivers in favor of custom software:

Conformity to client needs: The workflow, language and capabilities will conform to your needs rather than requiring you to conform to it. If users must conform and contort their thinking and processes too much, the adoption rate and chances of success will suffer. History is filled with failed enterprise software implementations for this very reason.

Adaptability: As your needs change, the software can change with you – and change more quickly – as it only needs to satisfy you as a customer.

Every team has its unique organizational behavior and structure, taxonomy and workflows, which custom software can conform to (thus boosting adoption and user satisfaction) and can be refined to continuously meet evolving requirements. Our experience has conclusively shown that, for large advertisers, agency management solution needs are too specialized to allow for a successful out-of-the-box experience.


Advertising Love Doctor

Scoping and Briefing: Help Needed

Scoping and Briefing

Dear Advertising Love Doctor,

I love my agency team. The ideas are there, communication is frequent, and the work gets done…eventually. However, I feel like we could be working more efficiently toward our outcomes while spending less. Am I overlooking a planning step that could eliminate some of our process disruption, save budget and set better expectations from the get-go?


Dear Efficient-less –

Sounds like you need a prescription for optimized scoping and briefing. There are many avenues that drive cost reductions, but nothing comes close to what a better scope of work and briefing can do to improve the bottom line. We often overlook these activities.

Research shows that agencies often experience confusion, tension and frustrations with their clients when they operate with sub-optimal guidance and poor workflow processes. And unfortunately, if the client team has a reputation for scoping work inaccurately, going back and forth for extended periods of time and changing direction frequently, most agencies will build these inefficiencies into their pricing.

It doesn’t have to be that way! Improvements in more streamlined workflows, the use of automation tools, the gathering of more insightful, actionable scope and brief data, combined with robust analytics, all contribute to better company-wide practices. When advertisers focus their attention on revamping their scope of work and briefing practices, they will start to see improvements –  including productivity gains, efficiencies and an improved bottom line.

Try evaluating how your team scopes and briefs the agency – doctor’s orders!


Advertising Love Doctor


Dear Advertising Love Doctor,

In this biz, we work and live by deadlines – and when they are tight or a fast turn, we always do what it takes to deliver. But burn out is real and my team is struggling with the too-regular Friday requests and Monday deadlines. How can we approach this with our client and is there anything we can do to prevent this from becoming the norm?

Weekend Warrior

Dear Weekend Warrior –

“Sorry for the late heads up, but we need this by Monday if possible.” For agencies, such a request is a bona fide weekend ruiner! Sure, you know the nature of marketing and advertising; the work is more fluid and time to market is shorter than ever. For agencies, being in the service industry means a certain level of flexibility is required.

However, it is wrong for your client to abuse their status with last minute requests at the end of the work week. As you alluded to, it creates unhealthy environments within your agency team that can lead to demotivation and high turnover. Truthfully, your client might not be aware of the impact these requests are having on agency morale, so it’s your job to communicate that to them!

Open lines of communication are critical in any relationship, especially one between a client/agency. Both partners should feel the freedom to express what’s working and what isn’t. Perhaps your client isn’t thinking about the impact these requests are having on your team; maybe if they knew, they’d try harder to loop you into requests earlier, or push certain requests until Monday when possible. If for some reason they aren’t, that’s a red flag that you’ll want to keep your eye on. It takes two to tango, but you need a willing partner first.

I wish you good luck in your conversation!


Advertising Love Doctor