Written by Michael Beckerman on April 13, 2012
in Strategic Marketing

Scott Bedbury, my former boss at NIKE, was featured in Advertising Age, in an article listing 10 forward-thinking marketing executives (including the late Steve Jobs). I wasn’t surprised to see him included on that list.

Scott was the global director of advertising at NIKE when I was head of advertising for Europe and I remember well his remarkable creative instincts. Scott was the first to recognize the power of the phrase “Just Do It,” and later went on to lead the global brand-building efforts for Starbucks.

What he is less known for is an area that made a huge impact on NIKE and great marketing in general – he set the tone for NIKE’s productive relationship with its ad agency, Wieden+Kennedy.

Trust is key
Scott understood that for the agency-client relationship to work best, it requires open communication, a lot of work and a foundation of trust. We as an industry talk a lot about client wins and losses, but we don’t talk enough about what goes into making an excellent agency-client relationship.

Relationship building blocks
At NIKE, Scott encouraged us to make the effort to be a great client. He believed a positive agency-client relationship would result in great work – which it did. He reminded us to include the agency early on in planning, to be transparent with our budgets, to spend the time to write compelling, insightful briefs, and to ensure we had clear, timely approval processes.

To this day when I see the slogan “Just Do It,” I think of Scott, his inspiring leadership and the effort he put into building the trust needed in client-agency relationships to produce world-class work.

I was a client for over 20 years and tried to encourage my team to be a great client. Now on the agency side, I know my Ariad team thinks every day about how to be a great agency partner. If you are either a client or an agency person who hasn’t thought about how to improve that relationship, I would encourage you to “Just Do It.”

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