Chic-fil-A Dumps Its Agency: Lessons For Sellers Like You

Last month, after 22 years and millions of sandwiches, Chic-fil-A fired its agency.

Photo by James Peragine

Photo by James Peragine

This came as a shock to many.

The Richards Group introduced the “Eat Mor Chikin” cows in 1995. As AdAge reports, Chic-fil-A has become the top chicken chain in the United States, with $6 billion in annual sales.

In spite of all that, Chic-fil-A fired their agency. Understandably, Richards Group executives seemed stunned. Again, from AdAge:

“It’s not very often that a campaign this successful results in an agency being fired. I don’t know that there’s much precedence for it,” Stan Richards, principal and founder, The Richards Group, said in an interview. “It is a little hard to understand, and in many ways it’s the saddest occurrence in my long, professional life.”

For all of us in the media sales game, there are some lessons.

1. If you are working with your station’s biggest agency, your income is at the mercy of the clients that agency represents. Your biggest biller may be one phone call away from being a much smaller part of your paycheck.

2. No matter how good your account list looks right now, stuff happens. Marketing directors get fired. Successful companies hire new people who have other ideas. Owners sell their businesses.

You have no control over any of that. You do control your activity.

  • You can build relationships with the local clients your agencies represent. Agencies get fired, and if the only person you know is the media buyer, you’re in trouble.
  • You can look for new business every day. Here are several ways to find leads.

Or you can sit on your list and assume everything’s going to be fine forever.

It’s your call. Will you do what it takes to build a sustainable sales career?

Or are you a chikin?


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