If you’re a rugby fan, you’ll be familiar with the incident. If not, in an attempt to be competitive against a 16 game un-beaten England, the Italian rugby team (that been crushed in its last two games) used legal but unorthodox tactics. This clearly left England rattled to the point where its forward, James Haskell, asked the referee: "what do you want to see?" (unbelievable from an elite player).

This made me think about agencies and their approaches to marketing for their housebuilder clients."It’s a formula" say some, "a sequence of activities well-honed over the years". "It’s giving the client what they want" say others, "the client knows the game and what works; we simply deliver."

Does this sound like your agency?

...Which brings me to Haskell’s quote. The worst possible agency approach to a client: "what do you want to see?", abnegating all creative and strategic responsibility to the person who’s paying you.

...Which then brings me to the referee’s brilliant riposte to the player: "I’m the referee, not your coach!" (Quite right too).

Because as clients, you don’t pay agencies to do what you tell them. You shouldn’t have to coach them. You pay them too originate, to create, to differentiate and make your brand stand out and generate results. To challenge you. Not to follow convention. Because, as we’ve said before, convention = convergence = confusion, in the consumer’s mind. The exact opposite of what your marketing investment is intended to do.

So, next meeting, when your agency’s account director pours the pre-business, blah-blah cuppa, put them on their guard by asking "are you like James Haskell?" - I’d be fascinated to hear the response!