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Rant against the agency machine.

I've been meaning to get this off my chest for a long time.

Ad Agencies have all but destroyed the profitability of the commercial printer!

There has always been the need for professional agencies to brand and develop marketing strategies. We wouldn't be aware of many opportunities available to the consumer without agency involvement. However, the profitability of the agency to coordinate all aspects of a customers campaign requirements is directly related to how much they can save on vendor pricing, no matter how much the contract with the client is to handle these outside services.

Speaking only from the view of a commercial printer, agencies have taken advantage of the printers need to have steady work to offset the immense overhead involved with running a print facility. With printers beating each other up to get the work, and agencies negotiating the cheapest price to the vendor with the best capabilities, printing markups are rarely over 10%. Agencies mark these great prices up 200 to 300%. This would not be so bad if agencies could give printers the required files to get the job done correctly. Ad agencies are notorious for providing final print files to a printer that need to be "fixed" before the job can be printed correctly. As commercial printers, we have bent over backwards to help agencies "learn" how to use the programs so easily purchased by their designers. With very little equipment overhead, agencies can constantly upgrade to the latest and greatest software without ever learning how to operate the version in hand, hoping the newest upgrades will do more of the work for them. Unfortunately this requires the commercial printer to keep up with these updates as well. If we don't, the agency just goes on to printer who will. Very little loyalty, no matter how much help was given in the past. On top of all this, you have an art director who seems to be paid on how difficult he can make the color management and printability of the project. If a commercial printing company can not handle the temperment and oftentimes ridiculous requirements set by these art directors, the work disapears.

I have seen first hand the operation of agencies in the automotive industry in Detroit. Large agencies with huge buildings and luxury offices. Egos larger than all that and payment strategies that require printers to be their bankers.

Trade service companies, that used to manage preprint only, have all but disapeared when agencies figured out that they could "do the work themselves" with the software available. Right. Nevermind that the talent that produces these type of files don't come out of college kids earning an appenticeship with the agency for little or no salary.

In twentyfive plus years in the printing industry I can't think of one instance when proper files were delivered from an agency that did not require additional work to make them correct, unless being forwarded from a trade service provider.

What's the point of all this? Only that when looking for someone to do your branding, stop there. Once the creative is done and the marketing strategy figured out, outscource printing and fulfilment services with your commercial printer directly. We can do as much for you as we would do for an agency. We often have designers on staff and can manage your print materials without agency involvement.

The printer will actually make more money on each job, pay as much attention to details working directly with the client and the client will pay less for the work with out the agency markup.


  1. Obviously you have not realized the benefits of a complete branding and marketing program handled by professionals.


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