working towards great client service

Closing announcement

Thank you for subscribing and contributing to clientmanagementvn. I had a wonderful 3+ years with all of you. Unfortunately, this blog is now closed as I am no longer working in RMIT University Vietnam.

Please feel free to read and review the articles here for your educational and professional use. Just remember to reference them and give credit to the authors.

As learning never ends there is a new platform for my followers and contributors at EQme. For any academic assistance you may send a private message to our Facebook page or email me at

Happy 2015 everyone!



S2 2014 Clean-up Complete

Please note that the entries from last semester have been edited. You will find only the best blog posts/ interview articles from May 2014. As for the previous 2 years’ entries they are still available, but make sure you refer to the “liked” entries from the editor as examples for your Assessment 3.

I also encourage you to take a look at ALL the only comments/ replies given as they point further to how to make the articles better. Learn from others 🙂 and happy reading!

We will invite you to become ‘authors’ to the blog sometime in Week 10. ~Mel C

Straightforward indirectness – cross-cultural negotiations in Vietnam

By Robert James Corrigan,   s3410398, Hanoi campus

In two years living in Vietnam, I have repeatedly used an apparently funny phrase… “I go walking.”

As a foreigner of mixed European heritage, I already stand out in Hanoi. I frequently walk within the city, rather than riding a motorbike. To the many “xe om” drivers; local men offering services of a motorbike ride somewhere; the concept of someone wanting to walk is apparently hilarious, especially when said in my polite (and limited) Vietnamese.

What xe oms fail to realise is a golden rule of customer service, “before you give someone what they need, give them what they want” (Solomon, 2008). I want to walk short distances if able.

Any tourist to Hanoi’s Old Quarter is undoubtedly familiar with a similar situation. Whether it be politely refusing a xe om ride, bartering the fair price of a photo of you carrying some pineapples, or convincing a cyclo driver you don’t need a full hour; outsiders have ample opportunity to negotiate value with an enterprising Vietnamese person.

Few Australians would be more familiar with this than Graham Alliband. Working in the 1970s for Australia’s Foreign Affairs department, Graham served two postings to Vietnam before serving a third as Australia’s Ambassador to Vietnam from 1988 – 1991. Since then, he has chosen to make Vietnam his home, predominantly in managerial positions of developmental aid.

Currently Coffey International’s Hanoi Team Leader for the Australia Awards program, Graham is contracted to the Australian Government for the selection and management of around 200 post-graduate scholarships annually. Whilst his client is his former employer, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, ultimately the beneficiaries of his work are the people of Vietnam.


Graham with his Australian Government counterpart, Simone Corrigan, attending 2014 Alumni Conference in Hanoi – photo Rob Corrigan 2014

“I have a good understanding of Vietnam,” Graham offers modestly. “Yet there is so much left to be understood; Vietnam is not an open society.” He believes Vietnam shares certain aspects with neighbouring Confucian-based societies such as Korea and China; strong and clear definitions of personal relationships in business, with clear obligations to family. Further, Vietnam stresses the importance of education for children, but doesn’t really foster curiosity (asking questions).


Graham (pictured at rear centre) with Scholarship Alumni Network delegates – photo courtesy Simone Corrigan 2013

Yet Graham suggests in business negotiations, Vietnamese people actually exhibit one very similar behaviour to Australians; a sense of humour.

“The key thing is to be personable,” he says. “Politeness is important, but if you can show your sense of humour you can lighten a situation.” According to Graham, this ability to share a joke, even teasing one another in light-hearted fashion, is something Vietnamese and Australian cultures seem to have in common. This idea is consistent with Solomon’s view of “remembering the personal side of business relationships.”

But, it’s not all drinks and laughter in Graham’s dealings with the Vietnamese. When it comes to negotiating with Vietnamese people, he says they can “be straightforward, but also indirect in their views.” Rather than being confrontational, or evading, Vietnamese parties may say very little.


Whilst Australians will meet openly, speaking our minds and asking questions, it has been Graham’s experience that delegates in a Vietnamese business meeting will keep quiet. Whether it is a cultural trait, or a learned behaviour from school or family, business delegates shy away from asking questions of foreign counterparts. Usually participants defer to their senior representative in the room. If that person is reticent or stubborn, a barrier to a successful negotiation can result.


It has been Graham’s experience however, that his ability to speak the language provides an “instant rapport” effectively cutting through such barriers. He states plainly that negotiations will be collaborative rather than competitive “if you can show an understanding of your counterparts.”


This explains the joke I seem to share with xe oms; my indirect refusal of their services is polite but also straightforward when combined with “Tôi đi bộ” (I go walking). Alternatively my Australian accent might be lending some humour to the situation. Either way, I always walk away from these exchanges to the sound of laughter and with a smile on my face – a positive outcome.


Word count: 663 (including references and quotes, but not headings)



Hoang Tuan, D 2014, COMM2384 Client Management: course notes – Negotiation Week 8, RMIT Vietnam, Hanoi

Solomon, R. 2008, THE ART OF CLIENT SERVICE, Kaplan Publishing, New York

“There is no right or wrong, yes or no in the event industry”

Interviewed by Ly Nguyen Ha Giang – s3411910 – Group 1 – SGS


Yes, I really want to meet this lady! I have to and I will!

I kept logging into Ms. Vu Thi Hoai Thuong’s profile – the account manager at Square Event – every day after accidentally finding her on LinkedIn. This lady with a smiling face creates the feelings that she is easy to talk to. This lady has the valuable experience with nearly five years working in the account team of different agencies such as 2res Co., Golden Communication Group and Square Group. She has the skills. She is exactly the one I had been looking for to write a magazine article about.
Square Event established in 2005 is a part of Square Direction Communication Group providing three core services to their clients including special event, activation and show management. Specifically, Ms. Thuong shared that in Square, account managers are not only responsible for handling the clients, being the representative of clients in the agency and the bridge to deliver the messages from agency to the clients, they are also in charge of the whole projects from A to Z as the project leaders.


Account Manager’s job at Square Event (Illustrated by the author)

Being the project leader is one of the advantages supporting Ms. Thuong as an account manager as she will have an overview and know the project inside out; thus, when clients approaching her for feedback, comments, etc. with aggressive attitude, she knows how to cool them down.

“Clients are our God. It’s true. But not always. Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong” – she pointed out – “But of course clients always know their brands more than we do”. Therefore, she shared that when her clients comment or feedback on their ideas, the first thing she would do is to listen to her clients. “Never say yes or no immediately” – she emphasized – “Simply say that I’ll take your feedback and comments to my team, then we’ll consider whether these ideas are suitable with your brands or the event or not”. If they are right, we will follow them. If they are not, do not say they are wrong, but explain that those comments are not suitable with the values of the events and your brands; therefore, we should follow A B C solutions.

“Actually, I think ‘clients are our God’ depends a lot on the account managers. Even though their feedback is wrong, we still have to show that they are our God and we respect them in every decision. Don’t tell them you are right or wrong. There’s no right or wrong, yes or no in this industry. There are only suitable or not suitable” – She kept repeating this point of view.

What if clients still aggressively thought they are right?
“I’ll tell them that if you think this idea is the best, we’ll follow you, but we’re not sure about the results, and if they are not as we desire to achieve, you can’t blame Square on that. Square always passionately attempt to produce the best events for the clients, give them the most WOW ideas, but still respect every decision of their clients. Moreover, I’ll give them the big picture of how their decision will lead to, so that they can have a clearer expectation of the results”.

TThe response to clients’ request (Illustrated by author)

The response to clients’ request (Illustrated by author)

Solomon (2008, p.105) also agreed that “There is No No in your client vocabulary” and “when an unqualified yes isn’t possible, offer a qualified one: “Here’s what we can do; it’s not a perfect solution, but does it address your need?”. Furthermore, Solomon (2008, p.105) suggested that the agencies should discuss, negotiate, collaborate, solve the problem together with their clients; clients will eventually accept the agencies’ solutions, especially when they have seen your effort. That is the working motto of Ms. Thuong, which has been helping her build and maintain good relationships with the clients.


Proof of Life photo taken by Ms. Thuong’s co-worker.

Word count: 625 words (not include Title and Captions).


Solomon, R 2008, The Art of Client Service, Kaplan Publishing, New York, NY.


Perception of client retention from client’s perspectives

Interviewed by Truong Thien Kim Long – s3324490 – Group 1 SGS

Readers know how agency does good to keep clients. It may be objective or subjective based on a writer’s perspectives. Have the readers ever thought of the opposite view? Join this post and imagine, what client thinks of the agency in one case study, presented in an interview.

(Colgate, n.d)

(Wpp, 2007)










An interviewee is Ms Nguyet Minh, Colgate’s Brand Manager. She specializes in FMCG industry and has 9-year working experiences; Ms Minh shows her professionalism and worldly-wise statement through her commitment to Colgate.

(Minh’s facebook, 2012)

“Colgate’s people concentrate on core values: Care – Global Unity – Nonstop Improvement. Minh said, three values are a basis of business strategy since they reflect Colgate’s lifework. Due to these values, its people have grown with Colgate and this is also the reason why Minh has become expert in being Colgate’s brand manager.

Minh gave the case study of Y&R and presented her perspectives about client retention. “Y&R works for Colgate-Palmolive in 4 years; however, there was a campaign, Y&R failed to satisfy us seriously”, said Minh. The campaign presented new Colgate toothpaste in Vietnam market that had the same functions but better quality than a competitor P/S. It was anti tooth decay and gave consumers pure breath, firmer and whiter teeth. Y&R helped Colgate run the campaign and attract customers (Minh 2014).

The problem is mutual communication. Y&R did not understand a brief but no asking at all. No pro-activeness in getting client updated with the campaign that made Colgate feel no more as the client who is buying a service. Y&R dissatisfied Colgate by offering few options and unreasonable rationale for the campaign.  These facts resulted in Y&R’s unprofessionalism, damage to Colgate’s trust and bad reputation (Minh 2014). Y&R also had no understanding of client’s market and insights.

Development of Trust

“Y&R is our long-term partner but the failed campaign destroyed our trust”, said Minh. Sobel (2010) stated Trust is a critical key in client relationships. Client trusts in agency’s capability by doing creative work and everything said must be supported with accurate facts and figures. Product’s image satisfies client’s needs so as to make them trust the agency (Casul 2012).  Solomon (Chapter 3, 2008) asserted the agency must live the client’s brand by being open and seeking new information and insights. You only live your client’s brand when you have research on their brand and product’s insights. You see the brand as yourself that helps you understand it clearly. The way you love yourself is the way you love the brand!

To give and keep Promises  

“Colgate pays for Y&R but we feel we depend on them for helps” (Minh 2014). Lack of pro-activeness and no understanding of the brief caused this fact. Solomon (Chapter 6, 2008) stated the agency must take the brief seriously. It was Y&R’s failure in understanding the brief. A good brief is important to obtain great creative work; if you cannot make yourself an expert on client’s product, you fail to keep promises with them (Solomon, Chapter 9 2008). Deliver what you promise and do not promise what you cannot deliver (Casul 2012). Y&R’s bad performances resulted in no keeping promises with Colgate. No understanding the brief matters since you do not ask anything so we cannot support you; “it is a bad attitude towards your promise”, Minh’s viewpoint.

Quality-Price-Time Triumvirate Model

(Blackboard, 2012)

(Blackboard, 2012)

“Colgate pays a service but Y&R does not assure the quality” said Minh. Casul (2012) asserted the agency should educate clients on quality and price; however, Colgate did this task instead. Minh added, Colgate has to pay additional fees because we want to speed the process up. It is costly to get the quality fast; without additional fees, everything seems slow. “Although we pay fees, it still seems like we do not pay anything for the service” said Minh. This point argues with Casul’s view, you can neither get the work cheap nor fast and it is either not a good quality. Moreover, “you can get good work cheap but it takes a long time” (Casul 2012); Y&R case study pointed a serious problem not to get the work cheap, good and it was a long time, too.

Hence, differences are in comparing communication theories and practices. The problem arose from the agency’s bad performances. Thanks to Minh’s advice, I present recommendations in client retention. Y&R is excellent; however, its local agency fails to satisfy clients and face bad reputation. Solomon thought the agency must get the client involved in the process early (Chapter 18, 2008); the process will be better. The client feels happy because they do not work alone. Additionally, client’s observation helps the agency check the work’s quality. “Y&R should have been proactive in contacting with Colgate during the process”; “quality does matter and we want Y&R assure it for us” (Minh 2014). “Don’t hesitate to ask, this is a way keeping us updated”, shared Minh; “We are willing to answer the questions”. Asking questions makes sure you understand us and go on right track. Without interpreting the brief, it is impossible to start. It is a must to understand the client’s insights and market. Nevertheless, Y&R had little research on Colgate and got briefing wrong. You should live your client’s brand (Solomon 2008), feel it, love it as love yourself then you know to do the best work for your client.

Proof of life: Ms Minh and the author (taken by another person)

Proof of life: Ms Minh and the author (taken by another person)


Casul, M, 2012, “Lecture 2: The relationship marketing ladder”, Blackboard materials, pp. 4-6, viewed 5th May 2014.

Minh, P, 2014, Interview for Client Management assessment, 3rd May, 2014.

Sobel, A, 2010, “How strong is your client relationship?”, Blackboard materials, pp. 2-3, viewed 5th May 2014.

Solomon, R, 2008, The art of client service, KAPLAN, NY.


“If the creative work fails, the account fails, If the account fails, the creative fails.”

Interview by Elaine Calibara – s3461778 – Group 1

Within an advertising communications agency, one would know that there is a strong difference between the creative team and the accounts team. On one hand there are the creative thinkers, the innovators, the artistic brain behind the work, and on the other hand there are the analytical, result-oriented, logical thinkers. In such a parallel atmosphere, does the “us vs. them” concept exist?

“It shouldn’t be considered like that, why does one have to be either of the two?” Ramon Calibara, Executive Creative Director of Chuo Senko Vietnam responds to my question in asking whether he thought his company is account driven or creative driven. From the outset I was taken back hearing this after only the third question of the interview as expectations led me to think there were two opposing sides within an agency.


Proof of Life photo: Ramon Calibara, ECD, Chuo Senko

Upon hearing that a key member of the creative team could view the relationship between his own team and the accounts team as not a notion of differences, there is now a desire to learn how Chuo Senko Vietnam demonstrates effective teamwork. When discussing his team, there is a drive and passion in his voice, “There is an existing team spirit that everyone has, motivating each team member to commit to every job that is received by the agency. Every job is a common task. Each member is responsible for the job ensuring that we are doing the best work at its highest potential”. This is a clear depiction of a strong corporate culture.

Following the discussion of effective teamwork, Mr.Calibara offered to share insight to when the accounts team and his own team illustrated, in his opinion, one of the better successes of the agency. This success is at the root of his creative team, the accounts team and the client’s leap to help the agency. In 2013, Century pacific group hired Chuo Senko to create a campaign for them, “the client gave us a reasonable amount of time to work the campaign out and so the client service team came to the creative with a brief form the client that was so clear and well understood simply because the client side brought Vietnamese counterparts. The brief was written in Vietnamese and was only translated back to English for me to understand it.” After hearing how language barriers were no longer an obstacle he further added, “this translated in perfect harmony with the client service team and of course us, the creative team. It was very successful, the creative images were created a year ago and are still being used as we speak.”

This display of harmony between the accounts team and the creative team solidify Darryl Ohrt’s view that “there is a clear difference between the two cultures. And it’s not that creative-driven agencies don’t care about their clients, or that account-driven agencies can’t conceptualize. They do, and they can.” (Ohrt 2010)

After learning more about the internal environment of Chuo Senko Vietnam, I wanted to know how the practice of effective teamwork contributes to the external environment – their clients. In building their relationships with their clients “The quality of service needs to be taken into account and giving the client the best quality possible at the lowest price.” What Chuo Senko offers is the most ideal for their clients and displays the concept of the quality-price-time triumvirate model:



(Morelos, 2012)

Although Mr.Calibara does not mention time as a factor to provide the best for their clients, he does point out in his example that client’s give them an honest timeline of when the work is needed.

Mr.Calibara shared valuable opinions and knowledge on how the creative team and the accounts team work harmoniously to achieve the best work for their agency. His last remark as the interview ended he said, “There will always be disputes between the creative team and account team. It is all a process. It is a metamorphosis of the work. We are one voice, one name, and one team. If the creative work fails, the account fails, If the account fails, the creative fails.”

Word count: 688


Darryl Ohrt, (Oct 12 2010) Advertising Age,, 02/05/2014

Monica Morelos, (22 March 2012 ) ClientManagementvn,, 01/05/2014


9:00 cut off

It is now 9:00 Vietnam time. Anything posted after my entry will be considered late. We look forward to reading your interview articles.

~Mel C

Building a culture for your organization. First step before accquisition and retention.

Building a culture for your organization.

First step before accquisition and retention.

Interviewed by Tran Mai Thao _ S3410167 _ SGS _ G2

I had a chance to spend a week as an internship student in Minh Ngoc Anh (MNA) Limited Company. MNA is the top 5 of “Yamaha 3S* Dealer” in Ho Chi Minh City. They maintain their motorbike business since 2007.

I spent time to chat with two different people here. The director is Nghiem Minh Anh, he inherited this business from his parent so he seem inclined to traditional.


Prood of Life- Director- Nghiem Minh Anh at Yamaha Minh Ngoc Anh with an author


He just keeps relying on their long-term customers, run business by family’s reputation. He doesn’t’ consider customer is the important core to run and expand business. He thinks customer needs him and his business.

However, from 2012 until now, the motorbike market faces to a biggest challenge. People don’t want to buy common motorbike any more. “I defined that MNA needs to focus on other fields: services and selling spare parts” – the general manager of the store in Binh Tan, Dai Thanh Tuan Anh, thinks quite modernly. “And the most important thing, i must look for the new customers for these fields too because almost customers have known MNA as a store which selling motorbike only”, he said.


General Manager – Dai Thanh Tuan Anh at Yamaha Minh Ngoc Anh with an author

Proof of Life- General Manager – Dai Thanh Tuan Anh at Yamaha Minh Ngoc Anh with an author

Tuan Anh proposed his new strategy which focus most on CRM (Customer Relationship management) and test it on Binh Tan’s store. He focuses on acquisition step on wholesale customers and retention step on retail customers.



Realtionship Ladder - Reproduced from Payne (1995)

Realtionship Ladder – Reproduced from Payne (1995)

He started to change his organizational culture of his company first. He said “defining own culture for my company is also the way i create our brand image in customer’s minds”. In the new strategy, Tuan Anh tries to deliver the new and professional image of MNA’s services to his customers. There are 7 employees included: 1 receptionist, 2 sales, 3 technicians, 1 warehouse keeper who work in this new strategy. Involving this campaign, employees must always smile and learn how to listen customer’s insights. Everyone in his store must have the basic knowledge about motorbike even the female receptionist. “That could increase the trust among customer because customer could think they came to the right place where everyone here can help them and their motorbike”- He also said.


Reproduced from, 2014

Reproduced from, 2014

In June, 2012, they tried to call back all customers who used to buy motorbike in Binh Tan’s store. He started to fill up customer’s database professionally, and remind customers about the maintenance duration. His employees also announced all promotions to customer through messages, phone-call and email also.


Reproduced from Tom, T, 2012 in

Reproduced from Tom, T, 2012 in


In the part of building trust in customer’s mind, he said “customer trust us while we know their problems and show the most effective and professional way to help them solve problems, so i realized me and my employees must improve our expertise first and then oriented customer to the right way because customers usually don’t know what they really want, they need effective helps”.

Reproduced from, 2013

Reproduced from, 2013


About how MNA found out new customer for their wholesale part, Tuan Anh indicated that he took a long time to research, took many field trips in Binh Tan to find out the demands in this area. At the end, he found out that, Binh Tan has many unprofessional garages want to buy real genuine spare-parts from Yamaha with good price but don’t need go too far to buy. Therefore, he assured that he serve exactly what the customer’s want.


Reproduced from Maren, A, 2013,

Reproduced from Maren, A, 2013,

According to all Tuan Anh’s thoughts, these are very similar to Solomon’s thoughts in “The Art of Client Service” book. Solomon also asserted that people need to make sure all things we said to customer, provide the reliability they “know” not “think” (Solomon, R, Chapter 42). Then, provide what customer’s want before suggest or serve what customer’s need (Solomon, R, Chapter 43). After campaign, MNA gained a lot of contracts with wholesale customer in Binh Tan. MNA also has known as the experts in repairing motorbike. It’s wonderful that i can see the real experiences from MNA Company to strengthen all knowledge from textbook.


Some corners at Yamaha Minh Ngoc Anh – Binh Tan Store

Some corners at Yamaha Minh Ngoc Anh – Binh Tan Store

Some corners at Yamaha Minh Ngoc Anh – Binh Tan Store

Some corners at Yamaha Minh Ngoc Anh – Binh Tan Store


Word count: 660


Solomon, R, 2008, “The Art of Client Service”, chapter 42 & 13, pp.107-109, Kaplan Publishing, N.Y

*3S: Sales, Services and Spare parts.

 Contact information of the interviewee:

General Manager of Minh Ngoc Anh Co. Ltd, – Dai Thanh Tuan Anh

Address: 147 Bis Nguyen Tat Thanh Street, District 4 // 506 Tinh Lo 10, Binh Tri Dong Ward, Binh Tan




How to make your Clients happy?

Written by Do Hoang Duc Anh – s3411694 – G1 (SGS)

On a windy Tuesday night, in the cozy atmosphere of Hard Rock Café where seriously ‘scary’ business men and women gather for a usual networking event, I by chance met a young man in a nice black suit who could easily impress surrounding people with his bright smile. He is Bui Dang Khoa, an account manager of Etihad Airways (a premium airline that offers 5-star luxury service) who has more than five years of client-related working experience in the travel industry.


Figure 1. Reproduced from Hyat 2013.

Seeing him again for the second time, I planned to discuss in more details about how different account management could be between the two fields of travel and marketing. However, the conversation shifted quickly because in spite of the industrial differences, an account manager basically still has to take care of clients and be responsible for the company’s relationship with particular customers. We then ended up discussing the ways to keep clients happy and how to make them stay connected with the company. What I have learned after is so much more than what I expected.

“Dress nicely and remember to keep your Smile. Always.”

“Truth to be told, no one works in this field that does not have a nice-looking face”, Mr. Khoa stated. It is definitely an initial advantage for an account manager to obtain good first impression with the client. To him, we need to care about our appearance and make sure our everyday outfit is neat, comfortable and professional. Moreover, always remember to equip ourselves with a smile: “A smile is a salesman’s best friend”. It will make the atmosphere more relaxing and it is even easier for us to gain the client’s favorite status.

“Clients, believe me, they love to gossip.”

Clients are people after all. They like to talk to people with a wide-range of knowledge, especially in the topics of their interests. Therefore, in order to impress the clients and make them remember us, we need to know what they like and try to learn as much as we can about that subject. Mr. Khoa stated that we don’t need to become an expert on that field, just study enough to have a nice chit chat with them on the issue, like how great is the football match last night or the new cool way to score a nice goal in a Saturday golf game. This reminds me of the idea of ‘feeding our clients well’ proposed by Mr. Quoc Hung, the Media Director from Dentsu Vietnam. He also values the importance of relationship building between account manager and clients as we learn about their daily needs and what they actually like.

“People work with people, people don’t work with organization.”

Keeping close relationship with clients will be a great benefit for us. However, we have all learned that despite how close we are to the client, it will be unethical if we move to a new company, the account also moves with us (Solomon 2008, p. 95). Interestingly, neither agree nor disagree with the idea, Mr. Khoa just simply told me: “To me, it is a fair fight.” In his opinion, it is true we should make the client stay until they finish the contract. But when the contract between the company and the client is expired, that client then has the total freedom to choose who they want to work with next. “People work with people, and of course they prefer to work with whom they like”. In the end, it is a fair fight among sales-men, let the one with the better skills win, regardless it’s the fight against our former company.

Overall, from what I learned after the meeting, being an account manager is a true form of art. Different industry may have slightly different structures and requirements, but excellent account managers always need to be able to manage their clients effectively as well as make sure those clients receive the best service.


Figure 2. Proof of life, photo taken by the interviewee’s co-worker.

Word Count: 660


Casul, M 2012, ‘ClientAcVRet Part3:3’, video recording, viewed 31 March 2014,


Hyat, F 2013, ‘Etihad Airways in all Geared to Increase its Munich Route to Twice a Day’, image,, viewed 3rd May 2014, 


Solomon, R 2008, The Art of Client Service, Kaplan Publishing, New York, NY.


Money matters at the bottom of the food chain.

By Hoa Dien Tran – s3408742 – Group 2@SGS Campus

Or at least that’s how I visualize the position of a production house.

For all of you who are still alienated with the term production house, they do the graphic part there, at Cyclo Animation particularly, they do animation graphic art for agencies. Find those dancing cows jamming to a ridiculously stupid and addictive tune on TV amusing? Chances are they were drawn and put to live by visual artists under production houses, such as Ms. Kay Mai. (From now on, I will refer to Ms. Kay Mai as Kay).


Proof of life taken by Kay's friend at her private sale on 27/4/2014

Proof of life taken by Kay’s friend at her private sale on 27/4/2014


Hope I could sketch my readers a picture of how bills are handled over at production houses after conversating with Kay from Cyclo Animation Vietnam, a production house that carries out post production, or in the academic sphere we call it the execution of big ideas, for communication agencies.

Kay started out as a VFX artists 2 years ago after graduating from her flash course in Singapore. Her initial plan was to stay and work on the small island, then her working visa got screwed and she went back to Vietnam and joined Cyclo Animation, a 5-year-old Saigon-based production house. Kay has work done for Publicis, Saatchi & Saatchi, Ogilvy and more.



(Quick note: The business works with PR/Ad Agency, PR/Ad Agency works with a production house. Basically the clients of production house are the agencies.)

Turn out in the reality world, there is a position called “producer”, whom I’d say doesn’t necessarily belong to the account team, but it’s versatile based on each agency.

The “producer” here usually offers the bacon to production houses, by referring them to agencies in need. He/she serves as a liaison between the production house and the client. The “producer” is the dealer who works out the remuneration package for the project.

Kay shared that the dealer usually receives 5 to 10% of overall payment for each campaign as commission, based on how “thick skinned” the dealer is. Basically, what a dealer does it that they tell the production house to come up with a price that already includes the production house fee plus the percentage the dealer wants out of a particular project. That price list later will be sent to the client. The billing method for artists do not seem to fall into any of the theoretical categories suggested by Casul (2014), however, we can easily see that it resembles the Commission Fee. My dear readers, you should always be reminded that the practical world is nothing like the textbook you learnt in school.



Kay explained , as a 3rd party supplier, you hold the shorter end because you’re at the bottom of the food chain. The dealer may push the price because it’s him/her who referred the jobs to the production house.


“If the production house refuses to compromise with the budget, then chances are there would be no future of collaboration because your production house has already been blacklisted. It’s basically how agencies are in Vietnam at the moment, deal with the ugly truth, babe.”


Funny how we listed “being cunning” as one of the attribution of an account person/middle man, Kay said that she detests some individuals for the exact same thing. Noted that I am generalizing this up and not every single account person is cunning and obnoxious. I guess it depends heavily on what perspective you are in and what kind of personality you possess.


But Heyyyyyy …?


After all it’s a production house where creativity does its magic, will the money matters become a burden to the artists?

Well, I managed to get a quick quote from a mysterious producer, who also works at Cyclo Animation. She apparently serves as a fairy god mother to the artists by raising her shield of defense.


“Artist shouldn’t know or care about the deal between suppliers and client.  As a producer, we try to keep them free from all the deal of quote/price/money and let them focus to their creativity and the deadline.”


Word count: 673

*Check out some of the work from Cyclo Animation here

**Typography as headers made by me


Reference list

Casul, M 2014, ‘Remuneration’, Lecture in COMM2384 Client Management, 19th March, RMIT University, Vietnam.

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