working towards great client service

The relationship with media agency

Relationship with Media Agency

Cao Ngoc Thanh Truc


Advertising industry is fulfilled with client-agency relationships, with creative ideas and importantly the media roles. Ideas cannot be delivered without the media and agency-client relationship cannot work without executing those ideas. Therefore, the role of media agency in the advertising industry is quite crucial. In order to be successful with clients, advertising agencies have to get smooth relationship with the media agencies. In other words, they must climb higher and higher on the relationship ladder with the media production so ads agencies can have their business supportive. These are also your clients, they are b2b business-to-business clients. I have chance to interview Ms. Nguyen Thi Xuan Lan, who is senior marketing executive of one of the big American coffee brands in Vietnam currently – The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. The brand has an interesting relationship with Yan TV, a new channel that has been growing fast and vast amongst the Vietnamese youth. We shared some of her experience around The Coffee Bean’s stories with Yan TV, both great and negative experiences suffered so as to maintain their relationship.


The media role

No one in the industry can deny the role of the media agency. A report developed by World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and European Associations of Communications Agencies (EACA) pointed out that there are 3 main factors that influenced the growth of media agency.

  • Firstly, the explosion of media outlets with revolution in technology.
  • Secondly, advertisers’ demands toward more effectiveness and productivity of the media has increased.
  • Thirdly, the increase of media market on an international scale.

Therefore, as advertisers, we need the media more, clients do too. Media agency will help advertising agencies understand on selecting the right media vehicles for their purposes and the media market (WFA & EACA, n.d).


The Coffee Bean Vietnam and YanTV’s stories

“It’s not easy to keep relationship with the media house and have both sides benefits as written in contracts” said Ms.Lan. “We need them more than they need us I think. That’s why working with media agencies leave lots of conflicts behind each relationship.” Every side always wants a win-win state in every single situation. However, it just looked like win-win and in fact, one of the sides or both had chosen to ignore the other side’s mistakes.

For example, Yan TV are allowed to put their banners and standees around The Coffee Bean’s stores and the printed items must have The Coffee Bean logo on it as it written in both side agreements. Nevertheless, Yan TV sometimes forget that, it’s all about them on their own banners. The issue was not big enough to make a serious negotiation or sue. Sometimes, even The Coffee Bean side did not have time to check all of those, they just ignore it and avoid conflicts with the media company. The Coffee Bean Vietnam wants to bring art closer to Vietnamese people and that’s why they team up with Yan TV.

However, The Coffee Bean Vietnam have to step to step out of the consistence of The Coffee Bean chain all over the world, which is classic theme. The Coffee bean Vietnam aims to reach younger generation and more open. Teaming up with Yan TV, they have started to play music provided by Yan which are mostly music for the youth from Vietnam, Korea and also US-UK. This brought lots of complaints to The Coffee Bean since their ambience is not suit for their main target customers anymore. However, younger customers have noticed more about The Coffee Bean and their events thanks to Yan TV, despite the price of the Coffee Bean is considered very high in the food and beverage market. Ms.Lan shared that, YanTV was a new and viral TV channel amongst the Vietnamese youth with great history and background. “Our stores will sometimes be location for them to film their shows and they will receive cash vouchers from us.” Said Ms.Lan. “Nonetheless, it is not appropriate for us to give them permission on filming anytime in any of our stores, it depends a lot at a particular period. We cannot close a store for hours just for them to film.”

After a period teaming up together, conflicts occurred but benefits too and experiences of course. People may see Yan TV and the Coffee Bean together a lot on Yan’s shows and Yan’s banners in The Coffee Bean stores. The media house’s job is to make others become viral and seeable, on a wider scale, it costs a lot to work with them, but you and your idea is more viral.

Keep the bridges

Above were some examples of some typical conflicts that happened between the two companies and like Ms. Lan said, the way to solve was to ignore and avoid negotiating. There were so many written things that one side cannot satisfy but the issue was not too big to be deeply invested. Despite conflicts, the bridge is still kept for further. An agency can have relationships with many media agencies, some good and some bad, but keep all the bridges because the industry and the world are full of surprised facts. This matched with Gary Woollcort (2012) in Clients Management Lecture on “Works Prep for Client Managers” “Don’t burn bridges!”.


(Proof of life photo, taken at The Coffee Bean Metropolitan)

To sum up, in the advertising industry, every client is important, includes business-to-business clients such as media agencies. We all wants to ave great relationship with all of our clients so we must not forget about our b2b clients. As important as creative ideas, the media agencies hold bunches of things that advertising agencies need. That is one of the reasons lead to why working with media agencies can leave behind quite a number of conflicts but in the end, the benefits is not always just for one side only. Every relationship leave something worthy, not in the past, not now, may be in the future, we will not know. Just keep the bridges, we might have to cross it again someday.

Words count: 1001

World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and European Associations of Communications Agencies (EACA) n.d “Selecting a media agency”

Woollcort, G. “Works prep for client managers” December 2012 <> viewed 4th September 2013

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One thought on “The relationship with media agency

  1. -Interesting stories… but maybe at the very start discuss what exactly does a ‘media agency’ do? Both in the international and local (YAN TV) context. What do you mean by “you and your idea is more viral.” ?

    -You really went into specifics of the relationship between these 2 companies, that’s really good. However, you failed to contextualize it into one or more client management topics with appropriate academic citations to support: negotiation, agency remuneration (exchange deals & barters), relationship ladder (steady supplier, etc.).

    -In general, lots of work to do to make it better, but ‘I Like’ it for your detailed and no-holds barred examples.

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