Bold ad agency admission: “We scammed our clients”

In so many words, Element 79, a US ad agency, admits to scamming its clients to get their business. But the clients admit they were aware and are happy with the agency’s service.

The story, in today’s online Ad Age, describes how Element 79 announced a new sports marketing division and won highly prized accounts such as the NHL and U.S. Soccer Federation, yet had only added three new staff members and little new experience to their agency.

Less surprise about this agency’s tactic — it leveraged its experience with existing client Gatorade — than with the admission of the new clients who knew about the agency’s relative window-dressing approach to marketing a new sports division.

 PR agencies have frequently tried the same, some with success but most without. When the rubber meets the road, smart clients (hopefully) can gauge whether an agency’s expertise and experience lives up to the hype of its own marketing.

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