Agency cliches

that clients [.eiko] hate[.eiko]

By Roland Gurney | Updated on: May 02, 2023

Agencies are always harping on about their strategic thinking and relentless creativity. But when clients check out the copy on their website, it actually offers many of the conventions and cliches that the agency is promising to free them from.

So where are the maverick creatives?

Where are the agencies brave enough to try something new?

Why do all the websites look and sound samey?

Because, let’s be honest, most agencies have almost zero point of difference from their competitors. I’m sure if you ask them they’ll tell you it’s their unique 5-step process, their belief in a better future or their agency dog; Adidaschund. But to clients, these websites are filled with homogenous, sound-alike waffle.

And because they’re busy, many agencies fall back on overused copywriting and messaging tropes. Obviously, producing stellar client work is always the priority - but imagine if these agencies had a site that actually said something. A site that showed strategy and creativity, instead of just saying it. A site that had its own voice, not the standard issue one. Well that site would probably attract bigger, better, longer, lovelier clients.

Look, we know that crafting shit-hot copy for your agency’s website is normally pretty low down your to-do list, right?. Shameless plug: so you can hire in specialist copywriters like us, or you can invest a few days getting rid of the meaningless mess in your messaging, like these shiny turds…

‘We deliver results’
Yeah of course. You should deliver results, or otherwise why the hell are you in business? And are they even positive results, proven results, meaningful results? If you came to us at Treacle for copywriting and we sent you a Word doc. with the word peanut on it, that’d be a result. Disappointing and odd, but a result nonetheless.

‘Our solutions’
Solutions is a word that should be collectively kicked to death. Because almost anything is a solution to something; a pencil, a tree, Miley Cyrus. It’s a word so vague that you might as well swap it for stuff or things. If you have a specific solution to a specific client problem, then be specific about what that is. Problem solved.

‘We create emotional experiences / human connections’
It’s a flyer for fuck’s sake, not The Passion of the Christ. Your ad for that gin brand won’t bring grown men to their knees, sobbing at the existential brilliance of your tagline. A shed filled with hastily glued paper flowers is not a life-changing experiential event that’ll fundamentally change the way we think about ourselves. Of course your work should connect on a human/emotional level - on what other level could it connect?

‘Creating/designing a better future/world/tomorrow’
Yep, we’ve all had a vote and we’ve decided to put the future of humankind in the hands of a boutique creative agency. Just imagine how happy the world will be in 30 years when all these new brand identities are unleashed. Of course, believe in something bigger than yourself, but also; get over yourself.

But not passionate enough to think of a better adjective.

The Ayrshire Digital Small Business Award 1998 looks great on the shelf, but the claim sounds dusty. Any agency that has to tell you it’s award-winning has some issues. If the work is brilliant enough to win awards - just show the work.

Full service’
You do everything? Like, everything? Well... most things. What you mean is you’ll hire in a freelancer to do that motion video at the last minute because you have no idea what a 3D render is. Anyway, who wants to offer everything? Most clients want you to do one (or a few) things really, really well, not be a jack of all trades.

‘We’re storytellers’
If you’re so great at storytelling, why is your main story always about how important storytelling is? Yes, it’s part of the human experience to tell stories. Yes, it’s a way to share information across generations. But why not tell it as a better story if it’s your biggest skill. Show, don’t tell.

You swear. Ooh, you’re ‘ard. Consider this category disrupted.

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