Sample Agency Screening Criteria

May 10, 2011

By Brian Goodall

Type of Agency Being Sought

Client X, an association, is seeking a full-service agency partner to serve as an agency of record (AOR) to handle its on-going annual advertising needs. (Public relations and direct marketing are handled by separate agencies with whom the advertising agency will interface.)

As a supplement to his Insight Brief, Organizing for an Agency Search, Brian Goodall has provided sample agency screening criteria.

Agency Experience
  • Agencies specializing in the development and execution of corporate branding/identity programs.
  • Proven credentials working with associations, marketing partnerships, foundations, etc.
  • An ability to create and implement marketing programs targeted to multiple constituencies (consumers, health care professionals, government, not-for-profits, etc.).
  • Health and nutrition, healthy lifestyles experience, and food marketing experience will be valued, but are not a requirement.
  • A proven ability to work collaboratively with our other agency partners.

East Coast or Midwest preferred, but highly qualified West Coast agencies will not be eliminated from consideration.

Agency Size
  • An agency large enough to have depth of resources and broad experience.
  • An agency with a diverse, blue-chip client list that is indicative of success in delivering strong corporate branding/identity programs.
  • An agency not so large that the association will be “lost” or under-serviced.
  • An agency not so large that it has inflated budget expectations.
  • An agency that will value the association’s business.
Agency Disciplines
  • Advertising creation and execution—primarily TV and consumer print.
  • Design and production of association’s collateral and in-store merchandising materials.
  • Full-service media planning.
  • Full-service media buying.
  • Fluency with new media and digital technologies.
  • Sound strategic planning capabilities.
  • In-house research capabilities for the design and execution of all consumer research.
Agency Ownership
  • No preference.
Special Skill Sets
  • The association board that will interact with the agency is comprised of CMOs from 25 large food manufacturers. They are sophisticated marketers who will demand a high level of creativity from the agency.
  • The agency must be flexible and willing to work with the full board in the development and approval of all advertising programs.
  • The association board will require rigorous advertising budget stewardship.
Conflict Policy
  • While the association has no direct competition that would constitute a client conflict for agencies, if an agency contender has a client that is represented on our board, that agency cannot be considered for this assignment without the approval of the board member in question.