(I've found the average to be about 8 months, but that figure is dragged down by my early days in the job when, if I'm honest, I got through agencies like I get through condoms - a couple a day! The upside is that I really fucking know how to choose an agency. I think I may actually hold the British record.)
So, you've seen the presentations, you've seen the work, you've been wined and dined. What now?
1. Talk it over.Our traditional method is to gather in the boardroom at about 4pm, phone Curry In A Hurry, order some lamb bhuna, chicken dopiaza, shashlik, chicken kebabs, tandoori fish, 40 or 50 poppadums, 15 orders of pilau rice, double chips for Big Alan Cockson, beef madras, lamb madras, chicken madras (with exra chili), prawn madras and a crate of Kingfisher - then lock the door. We don't leave until we've finished the lot. Sometimes we even talk about the pitch
2. Consider the work.For me, that means running it past my mother (she's nearly target audience) and getting her to put it in order of what she hates least (she hates everything the old girl - she's a tough crowd, but the agencies will have to get used to her opinion if they're going to work with me!). Then I give it all what I call 'the 24 hour test'. You look at the work, and if you can remember it 24 hours later, throw it out - it's probably too contentious and will get you into trouble
3. Remember the chemistry meeting.Remember the chemistry meeting? Then it wasn't a proper chemistry meeting. Throw them out.
4. Look at the costs.Ignore all the bullshit in the presentations except for the last slide which, knowing agencies, will be the one that matters: it'll have the price on it. Throw out all the agencies that aren't the cheapest.
Bingo. You have a winner. They'll be able to get you pissed regularly, the work won't be so interesting it gets you into any bother and they'll be cheap. Perfect!
So there you have it: the Dave Knockles guide to choosing an agency. Do it my way and you'll go on more benders than Boy George on a city break to San Francisco. (I'm just joking - I've got some very good gay friends. Well, I probably would have if I went to the gym more and I'm always thinking I should.)
Tomorrow, back to the coal-face of consumer durables marketing. It's going to be a long day: I've got a meeting at 9.30am, for God's sake. Now that's fucking commitment - but I'm right up for it.
Why? Because I AM THE CLIENT!