My Ad Agency Did The Work But I Can’t Talk About It

My Ad Agency Did The Work But I Can't Talk About It

What do you do when a client won’t let your ad agency talk about the work you did for them?

Keep watching for 3 ideas to still use that work when you’re prospecting.

Welcome to “3 Takeaways”, your agency new business video series where we focus on one new business category and give you three takeaways to help improve your new business program.

The idea for this episode came from an Adweek article titled Brands’ Silence Hurts Agencies. PR Is a Win for Both.

The short version: it talks about brands or companies, not letting an ad agency publicly talk about the work they created for that brand.

Worth a read, but per usual, Adweek tends to focus on larger agencies, so I wanted to focus your takeaways today on small and mid-sized agencies. 

Because it’s an issue for you as well.

Let’s get the obvious point out of the way, and your first takeaway:

Discuss publicizing your work early with your client-or don’t. 

I don’t mean to be flip about this-but you can take one of two paths. 

The first is you bring it to the table early. 

Fair enough, there may need to be some negotiating, as I get into shortly, there are ways to use that work as part of your new business strategy that don’t involve plastering your client’s logo across your site. 

Or there’s the other path: if it’s not mentioned, it’s fair game, but again-in my opinion, you’re taking baby steps at that point, not plastering the logo-more on that.

Now let me point out-I get that this is your new client. 

Your goal is not to make demands or piss them off out of the gate on this subject. 

A lot of small and mid-sized agencies are working with bigger companies, and some of those companies will make it known early that you cannot talk about the work-period.

At that point, and circumstances will dictate, you don’t want to push it any further.

But it’s not necessarily over at that point. 

If there’s not a firm policy, you have some potential leeway-for example, your second takeaway:

Create docs, mini-case studies or one-pagers that are only used in your prospecting as one-on-one communication, that you can share with them.

Or a non-published, password-protected landing page, not something you’re posting on your site or on any public platform.

Again, I’m not advocating you jeopardize your relationship with this client.

If you feel in your gut that this step could bite you, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it. 

In some cases, it may be.-

For example, I’ve had conversations with agency principals along the lines of, “this is a long-term client that we’d really like to replace”, so you need to at least create something that talks the work only in direct communication.

But even that may make you feel queezy-fair enough. 

Another option, and your third takeaway:

Talk about the work in one-on-one conversations.

If you really can’t, or don’t want to, have anything public-facing, or are too concerned about physical or digital versions being out there, another option is discussing the work in a prospect meeting, in one-on-one conversations.

And maybe you don’t actually mention the brand directly to be safe, but what you did and what the results were.

Thanks for watching 3 Takeaways-lots of new business content our site at, just hit the resources drop down. 


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If you’re looking for a more effective business development strategy for your ad agency, email Lee McKnight Jr. at He would love to talk.

Or, if you’re not ready for that step, you can read about how our outsourced business development programs work here.