Apple to Apple

Whatever the need: an ad, a brochure, a film, a logo or a website… shop for the ad agency, not for your project. Here is an actual email enquiry: “We are looking at creating a very high end brochure for our company. The design should be very professional (sic) at the same time eye catching. “Should match the standards of the brochures you would find in the business class or first class lounge of (they named one of the biggest airlines in the world) especially the quality used to print* the same. ”The brochure should not be more than 50 pages A4. Please send the costs with the timeline for the same at the earliest.” We wrote back: We are ideally suited to deliver a brochure of the scope, scale and class mentioned in the brief. But we won’t send any cost until we meet and understand each other. They must have sent the same enquiry to others as well? But how would they judge an ad agency on the basis of an emailed quotation? They said, “by comparing apple to apple”.

We asked, do they know that one can buy apples for 1 dollar a kilo and also for 5 dollars a kilo? There’s one more vital point. When you buy an apple, you go and buy the quality of apple you would like to buy. But when you need a certain standard of work, you cannot go buy the work like you would buy apples. To procure the right work, you have to extend the apple analogy and look for the right apple farmer. You have to first select an ad agency capable of producing that standard of work… at the best possible price of course. Which means inviting the ad agencies to quote for a job won’t make sense unless you know the standard of each of the invited ad agencies. Most businesses need guidance to evaluate ad agencies. Also to educate them on how to buy what their business really needs. Design is dependent on concept. A powerful brochure depends on powerful concept. Special paper, innovative printing and finishing are secondary.* So the first task for the buyer should be to compare the capabilities of the ad agencies. In short, apple to same quality of apple.

*Many businesses cannot differentiate between a printer and an ad agency. Of course, ad agencies should take the blame for it.