The Breakup – A Confidential Letter

Bruno Gralpois


No matter how many breakups you’ve been through, they never
get easier. Through my years of giving agencies and clients
relationship advice I’ve seen many CMOs highlight extremely
frustrating problems as reason for ending a relationship.

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By Bruno Gralpois

It’s Valentine season, a timely opportunity for loved ones to celebrate their relationships. For too many, it’s also a sore reminder of failed relationships and painful breakups. Studies show that a breakup is an experience over 85% of American adults have had at least once in their lifetime.

Given the increase in agency reviews in recent years, it’s safe to assume that a breakup is something that EVERYONE in advertising has experienced at least once, if not multiple times, in their career. Advertisers and agencies are breaking up at an increased pace, reducing the tenure of their relationships to months, sometimes years, but rarely decades as once was typical. No matter how often you’ve gone through a breakup, it never gets easier. Let’s take a look at this termination letter from a CMO to one of its agencies:

This letter—yes purely fictional and borderline irritable—is inspired by real stories and pain points between advertisers and agencies that I’ve witnessed over the years.

For some, this letter might be a painful reminder. However, for most, I hope it highlights the many ways advertisers and agencies inadvertently create chaotic and unproductive environments which undermine their relationships if those are not addressed jointly and proactively.

Thankfully, many aspects of the client/agency relationship can be significantly improved by applying best-in-class client/agency practices, and yes, respect and common sense. If we learned anything from the increased number of breakups and poorly-managed relationships that are flooding our industry, it’s that as leaders it’s up to us to build high-impact and lasting partnerships that flourish and get celebrated year after year, maybe even next Valentine’s Day?