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Tom Corbett of Barclays sets out how they transformed agency contracts to be more equitable and accountable
We made a commitment during the RFP process that we would seek to audit regularly to understand how well our core media tenets were operating in practice.
The ANA Media Transparency Report in 2016 highlighted pervasive non-transparent business practices in media, including undisclosed cash rebates to media agencies. Emanating from this report was a broader industry and US / UK wide focus on transparency and a specific call to the industry to transform operating behaviours between client and agency.
Case Study: Tom Corbett – Head of Global Sponsorships and Media, Barclays
At that time, Barclays’ incumbent media agency had been in place for a period of seven years and our governance principles identified a need to robustly test the media market. As a consequence of the above, a market wide RFP process was released for group-wide Media Planning and Buying Services.
We had eight core tenets for the pitch of which three were:
Contractual reviews with the agencies were front weighted during the RFP process instead of at the end. This included pre-release of the Media Heads of Terms agreement, which contained our core media tenets that we established to deliver a market leading, transparent contract.
At the start of the RFP process, we conducted financial compliance audits of our incumbent agency in four important markets. We wanted to find out how our existing contract had been implemented by the incumbent and understand any underlying issues related to financial transparency, processes and controls, which we then addressed in our new contract.
We made a commitment during the RFP process that we would seek to audit regularly to understand how well our core media tenets were operating in practice. We wanted to identify and discuss any issues during the first half year review with our new agency and appointed the same compliance auditor (Financial Progression) to carry out implementation audits in our main markets in Q2 2018.
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It was a highly collaborative process in which the agency was keen to participate – after all, having spent a great deal of time and money to win our business, it too wanted to identify and address any gaps in the implementation of the contract before they became an issue. This was particularly true for markets that had not been as closely involved in the RFP process and therefore weren’t necessarily as mindful of Barclays’ priorities.
The key benefits of the audits on our agency relationship have been:
Based on the success of the audits run to date, we have established an annual compliance audit programme which is an important facet of Barclays’ ongoing approach to media governance.
About the case study author
Adrian Jenkins qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC) and has held senior positions in Finance focused on Procurement and Supply Chain, Marketing and Business Process Transformation.
He founded Financial Progression in 2008 and has developed it into a Chartered Accountants specialising solely in contract compliance audits of marketing and advertising agencies.
Adrian has conducted contract compliance audits in the UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, China, Russia, South Africa, Dubai, Singapore and Brazil.
Joint WFA Research Survey
In 2019 Financial Progression worked with the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) on a key piece of peer research: a survey of perceptions and business practices of some of the world’s largest advertisers around the hot topic of trust and financial transparency between brand and agency.
For more information about Financial Progression and WFA research