Agency Search

The ICA's Agency Search best practice documents provide fair and effective guidelines for clients to follow.

To find out more, contact: Scott Knox at sknox@icacanada.ca.

Best Practices in Agency Search & Selection

Finding Your Ideal Canadian Communications Agency

This comprehensive and expanded report reviews best practices in Canada (including ICA’s own Agency Search service), the U.S. and the UK, focusing on both the needs of Advertisers and Agencies.

The report was built on three core determinants to making the right choice in a communications partner:

  • Can they do the job well?
  • Do we have the right fit?
  • Do we work well together?

The Guide includes detailed checklists, rating sheets for the various stages of the search and selection process and a stage-by-stage "roadmap" of the entire process of searching for an Agency – what should be considered and required, along with best practices for handling the process.

ICA’s Best Practices also recommends moving completely away from requesting speculative creative since is not only costly but an outdated and non-predictive method of trying to ascertain what an Agency might produce.

Table of Contents

  • Stage 1 – Is a New Agency What You Need?
    • Mutual Performance Reviews
    • Mediation
  • Stage 2 – Defining Your Needs and the Optimal Search Process
    • Needs and Expectations
    • Writing the Initial Brief
    • Choosing the Optimal Search Approach
    • Assembling Your Selection Team
    • Clarifying Your Decision Criteria
    • Conflicts
    • Confidentiality
    • Incumbent Agency
  • Stage 3 – Defining the Long List
    • Long List Size
    • Where to Look?
    • Approaching the Long List
    • What Should You Expect Back?
    • Key Agency Information
    • Timing
  • Stage 4 – Choosing the Short List
    • Decision Criteria
    • The Short List Briefing
    • Briefing the Short List
    • Producing Creative/Strategy Work for the Pitch
  • Stage 5 – Making the Decision
    • Reviewing Submissions
    • Selection Criteria
  • Stage 6 – After the Decision
  • Exhibits
    • ICA Scope of Work Checklists
    • The ICA Agency Search Service
    • Initial Credentials Submission Rating
    • Agency Visits Meeting Agenda
    • Agency Visits Rating
    • Mutual Confidentiality Agreement



For more information, please contact: Scott Knox at sknox@icacanada.ca

Client & Agency Evaluation

A Guide to Best Practice, with Evaluation Formats

A Guide to Best Practice, with Evaluation Formats

The ICA's Best Practices Guide provides a simple yet effective process, giving an overall philosophy for evaluation along with sample forms that can be easily customized by advertisers or agencies. The philosophy is much more important than the forms, but both are needed. The evaluation process plays a huge role in the relationship, yet it can often be left to a last-minute rush to fill out forms, a vague chat over lunch, or perhaps worst of all, tight-lipped silence.

It is a completely new, zero-based look at the issues. The central premise is that the relationship between client and agency is key, and that it is worth investing the time and effort to get it right. Ultimately, a strong client/agency relationship can attract the best talent and get the best results.

This document outlines an evaluation system, in fact an attitude, that will help build the strongest possible client-agency relationship. This takes effort from both sides, and candour. Using a suggested five-point scale, there are specific agency department evaluation forms for clients, including: Account Management, Creative, Consumer Planning/Research, Production, Media Planning, Media Buying and more, with a summary rating form for overall agency performance. 'The Agency Feedback to the Client' form gives agencies a chance to open up communication on over two dozen points concerning the relationship with their client.

Client/Agency Evaluation draws on extensive ICA experience, with input from many agencies and advertisers, including the Association of Canadian Advertisers. Copies of the Guide in English and French can be accessed free of charge - see details below.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
  • About the Author
  • Purpose
  • Introduction
  • Best-Practices Principles
  • Tips and Guidelines
  • Evaluation Formats
  • Appendix I - How to Get Better Work from your Agency



For your convenience, the following evaluation tables are available in WORD format:

Printed copies are available - please call Jo-Ann McQuillan at 416-482-1396 Ext. 224

The Client Brief

Three marketing industry associations with a common goal of improving the efficacy of the client-agency briefing process have joined forces to distribute this comprehensive reference guide.

The document is a reference/education piece for Clients who are responsible for briefing agencies. The better the brief, the better and more accurate the results! This document takes the reader through the briefing process step by step. Highly recommended reading for both Clients and Agencies.

The Client Brief: A best practices guide to briefing communications agencies is based on research conducted with more than 100 clients and 100 agencies, and is designed for use with all types of communications agencies.

The guide refers to a written brief as the most important piece of information issued by a client to an agency, since it is from the brief that all work flows. The better a company's corporate or brand position is defined and the more thoughtfully its key business issues are described, the more likely it is that an agency will be able to apply its specialist skills to produce great solutions.

A properly composed brief will save both clients and agencies time and money, and will provide a platform for equitable remuneration, the guide adds.

The Client Brief was originally produced by associations representing the British marketer and agency sectors. The document has been fully annotated with footnotes by the ACA and the ICA to ensure its applicability for Canadian marketers and agencies.

Table of Contents

Part 1

  • 'The Client Brief' Summary

Part 2

  • 'The Client Brief' in more detail
  • Introduction
  • Recommended Agency Briefing Process
  • The New Structure For Briefs
  • Project Management
  • Where Are We Now?
  • Where Do We Want To Be?
  • What Are We Doing To Get There?
  • Who Do We Need To Talk To?
  • How Will We Know We've Arrived?
  • Practicalities
  • Approvals

Part 3

  • About The Co-Signatories

Part 4

  • References



Printed copies are available - please call Jo-Ann McQuillan at (416) 482-1396 Ext. 224

Payment By Results 2

Advertising Agency Remuneration Best Practices

Advertising Agency Remuneration Best Practices

The report PBR2: Advertising Agency Remuneration Best Practices was prepared for the ICA by Canadian marketing communications consultants Adrian Sark and Dan Reynolds. The report, among other things, gives ad agencies and their clients insight into "practical real-world experience" with PBR, from Canada and abroad, and provides "best practices" road maps for its implementation.

A management by objectives, pay-for-performance style of remuneration has long been standard for senior executives in industries around the world. Similarly, the ICA supports the "bonus" approach to PBR that recognizes the essential partnership between clients and the agencies and their need for goal congruence, mutual objective setting, and the "Win-Win" that is the foundation of Payment by Results.

For PBR to be successful requires open and trusting communication between client and agency. In light of this belief, the ICA is making this report available free of charge to agencies and clients through our web site.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Background
  • Research And Learning
  • The Current Arrangements
  • The Drive Toward PBR
  • The Benefits Of PBR
  • PBR Schemes
  • Remuneration Schemes
  • Performance Assessment
  • Caveats
  • The ICA Position
  • PBR Philosophy - "Win-Win"
  • PBR Principles
  • PBR Guidelines
  • PBR Remuneration Practice
  • PBR Mechanics and Criteria
  • PBR Implementation Process
  • IPA/ISBA Guidelines (U.K.)
  • Bibliography



Printed copies are available - please call Jo-Ann McQuillan at (416) 482-1396 Ext. 224

Additional Items

ICA member agencies can also access the following best practice documents & additional resources in the Members' Area of this website.

Agency Remuneration and Terms: Best Practices
This valuable resource provides learning and exhibits to assist agencies in the ongoing planning process. Key segments of this process are detailed, including language to avoid and use, preparation for negotiation, negotiation procedures and terms, agreement preparation/inclusions, agreement implementation and follow-up.

Agency Account Transition Checklist
ICA has created a checklist for agencies that are either on the receiving or giving end of an account hand-over. The topics cover contracts, creative, media, research, hand-over meeting, accounting/finance and other disciplines.

List of Agency Search Consultants - Canada and U.S
The ICA maintains a list of agency search consultants who operate in Canada. Please contact Jo-Ann McQuillan for our most up-to-date list.

The 4A's also has a list of American search consultants available on their website: Agency Search Consultant PDF.

The Client, the Agency, the Contract
A contemporary model contract for agencies to consider when developing and negotiating their own client-agency agreements. Presents optional approaches in handling such thorny issues as copyright and ownership of creative materials; termination and rights on termination; agency liability; client's obligation to pay; and for what. It is based, with permission, on a document originating from the U.K. under the tripartite auspices of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply plus the U.K. equivalents of ICA and ACA.