Agency woes

Have you ever had a bad experience with an advertising or design agency? Robin Petherbridge of Creative Partners reveals some of the tricks of the trade gleaned from 25 years creating campaigns for the marine industry.

It always saddens me when I hear of marine businesses being disappointed with an agency's work. The right agency can work wonders. But it's easy to get it wrong.

The reasons people have problems are, of course, many and varied. But the most common complaints are usually around the agency not fully understanding either the product or the market. Invariably, when you look at the work, it's fairly apparent what's gone wrong. 

Boating is a specialist interest. And like any specialist interest you need relevant specialist knowledge to be able to engage with the target audience – more so if you want to seriously influence or inspire them. You need to speak their language. And yet, marine businesses producing high value products will often put their trust in an agency whose experience is in marketing luxury goods to wealthy customers, not necessarily boaters. 

But boats are not like other luxury goods. People don’t buy boats primarily on the basis of pose value as they tend to do with things like clothes, jewellery and watches. Boats are more like cars, their brand appeal is much more complicated and nuanced. 

It takes not just the right imagery, but also the right representation of the aesthetics , the technical details and boaters' aspirations. A specialist marine agency will always know best where boating enthusiasts' buttons are. And how to press them.

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