The Science of Love

February 1, 2018

By Bruno Gralpois

Author/Speaker, Thought-provocateur, Client/Agency Guru, Entrepreneur, Innovator

Across the globe, a popular reality TV show, “Married at First Sight” features three couples, paired up by relationship experts, who agree to marry when they first meet. The experts include a clinical psychologist, a sexologist, and a sociologist/marriage counselor, working together to find the perfect match. When they do, the chosen couples meet for the first time, get married, and leave for a honeymoon. Upon returning home, they live together as a married couple for eight weeks. Thereafter, they choose to divorce or stay married.

While certainly entertaining, the program tests an experimental concept including, how effective these experts are at finding the right people to match, and tracking the married couples who ultimately stay together. The American version of the show monitors these results. After five seasons, 10 out of the 15 stayed married after the experimental period. Of these 10, only three remained together as of November 2017. Compared with the oft-cited statistics that half of all marriages in the US eventually end in divorce, the results do not seem, at first glance, to be overwhelmingly positive. But given that each of these individuals effectively marry a perfect stranger, one could have expected a significantly lower marriage success rate and a much higher divorce rate than the results indicate. The concept of this show begs the questions, is the science of love a reality or a scam?

How do these findings correlate to the world of advertising, brands, and agencies? How can we predict the likelihood of two partners coming together to realize greatness and build a lasting relationship?

Another fascinating experiment called The Sweaty T-Shirt, by Swiss biological researcher Claus Wedekind, considers the business world of partnerships between clients and agencies. The key takeaway of this experiment is that the careful evaluation of data can provide useful insight on how to find the right partnerships in the first place, and perhaps more importantly, once established, ensure that these partnerships flourish. As in science and physics, there are universal laws that provide the foundation of any purposeful analysis in client/agency relationships and, if applied, can improve them. We are constantly evaluating the client/agency relationships for some of the largest brand advertisers in the world, here are four essential laws that we live by:

Law #1: You can’t improve what you don’t measure (accurately). What this means: Too many advertisers still rely on rudimentary survey tools or spreadsheets to capture survey data about their multimillion-dollar relationships with their agencies. It’s hard to conceive that these multi-billion-dollar companies are still using outdated tools and labor-intensive processes, but they are! It’s time to go electronic and capture data accurately and in a way that it can be improved upon.

Law #2: Without continuous improvement, collaboration will suffer. What this means: Commit to follow up and take action based on the findings of the client/agency relationship evaluation. The inevitable pressure of the work relationship will weaken performance over time unless both parties are willing to take ownership of the role they play in making the relationship thrive. Don’t waste precious time and resources to conduct this type of evaluation unless you are fully committed to leverage the findings and drive change.

Law #3: Ask the right questions to get meaningful answers. The French writer and philosopher Voltaire said, “Judge a man [or woman] by his [or her] questions rather than his [or her] answers.” We believe this applies to building strong relationships. Thinking about what questions to ask in order to tease out the most insightful answers is truly the only way to identify what actions, if any, should be taken to strengthen the relationship.

Law #4: You get out what you put in—nothing more, nothing less. What this means: It’s not surprising to hear that the most successful partnerships can be found among organizations that truly value each other’s contribution. When a party doesn’t feel appreciated or valued, the commitment level is proportionally reduced, and the results speak for themselves. Instead, take the time to acknowledge everyone’s contribution, provide constructive feedback, take accountability, and get the work you deserve.

If any of the above laws are broken, the client/agency relationship is simply at risk. The client/agency relationship is too demanding, too complex, and under too much pressure to thrive without relying on a regular feedback process to course-correct accordingly. Love, especially at first sight, may never be fully understood by science. But why not use relevant insights to improve its chances and turn a spark into a lasting fire?


"The Science of Love." Bruno Gralpois, Founder of Agency Mania Solutions, February 2018.

You must be logged in to submit a comment.