ThinkOTB Agency

Advertising agency ethics. The number one quality you should look for when adding an agency to your roster.

July 14, 2020

How are you supposed to choose a marketing agency with all the different options available to you? There are lots of considerations to look for when choosing to work with an advertising and marketing agency. Past work, current clients the track record of key people, who will be working on your account day-to-day and obviously how much they charge. But one thing rises above all of that and it’s the one thing we place prime importance on here at Think OTB… and that’s ethics.

What do we mean by ethics in advertising? Well it’s simple. Ethics, simply put, is the system of moral principles that affect how people make decisions and lead their lives. Yet you’d be surprised at how many businesses lose sight of the importance of such a thing as they look to the bottom line and have their primary concern on profits.

Now don’t get us wrong. Every business is there to make money and profits. But how you conduct yourself in doing so is the one thing that some businesses lose sight of. Interestingly, it’s also one thing that sometimes seems to be low on the list of many procurement professionals. Instead, they look to get the best value in monetary terms for their organisations.

Now this is where the procurement professional will say, of course, we always place a prime importance on the ethics of an organisation. But if that were true, why is cost always the large percentage of most scoring criteria?

Strong ethics can apply to many aspects of the procurement process. This is how we see Think OTB’s ethics applying to all aspects of the procurement process. And since price is usually king, we’ll start on that.

The ethics of fair pricing. Best value Vs fair value

You hear the term ‘best value’ a lot during procurement processes. Yet what is usually meant is the lowest price. Interestingly the term ‘fair value’ has become a popular term and this is something we massively believe in at Think OTB.

When you look at the principle of unjust advantage… the fact that a small two man company will have significantly lower overheads than a 10 person or 50 person company and will therefore always be able to go lower in terms of cost. The principle of fair price is always lost. Essentially the value of the output, the experience that goes into it, the insights, care, experience etc. rather than just the lowest price should be what determines a decision. Otherwise the craft of what an agency does is simply devalued.

That’s why ‘fair’ should be a major factor and not cheap.

The ethics of agency people and their willingness to add value and not just carry bags

Before someone joins Think OTB we conduct personality tests. Why? Have you ever heard the term ‘bag carrier’? It’s a term used in advertising for decades to refer to someone who adds no value. To someone who might as well be working in a bank as supposed to an advertising agency as they have no passion for effective marketing and advertising.

After all, we don’t just do pretty pictures and write words for the fun of it. Every piece of work we create is designed to enhance or build a brand or ultimately gain a reaction in some way – usually a sale of some kind. So it’s important that everyone at an agency understands how marketing works, has studied the works of the best agency people out there (after all, if you were a psychologist, you’d study the works of Freud and Bernays).

The same is true of good agency people. And that’s what we insist on here at OTB. Passionate marketers who understand how marketing works and add value to every stage.

It’s said that the best advertising and marketing agencies out there act more as consultants and valued advisors. They shouldn’t just be yes men and women. And at ThinkOTB we couldn’t agree more.

Honesty, hard work and commitment come as standard… But, the ThinkOTB edge is people with passion and who are able to add value. We won’t bring someone into the team if they can’t show commitment to ethics in advertising. Have you got what it takes? Check out our current vacancies.

The final ethic is the ‘will to succeed’

Nobody likes a failure, especially in marketing. Like box office bombs in Hollywood, failure costs more than money, it can cost jobs too. At Think OTB our test and learn ethics have served not only our agency reputation well, but also our clients well too.

You see the collective experience of our people and the fact that we have a firm belief in knowledge sharing has meant that eve our most junior people have the ability to make decisions and give advice based on knowing for sure ‘what works’.

This final ethic is one that you don’t see a lot during the procurement process or agency roster selection. But it’s surprisingly the one that a lot of marketing people end up valuing the most.

If you’d like to see how Think OTB could improve your marketing with our strong ethics or want to add us as part of your agency selection process, simply email

Want to learn more about ethics in advertising? Take a look at our examinations of Innocent Smoothies, Dove, and Coca Cola.


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