MPF 2019 Managing & Optimizing PxP (Project by Project) Relationships



Neal Grossman | Chief Operating Officer, The Designory and eg+ Worldwide | Chief Compensation Officer, TBWA Worldwide
Marisa Lieberman | Vice President–Director of Project Management, McCann Health New Jersey (MHNJ)
Dave Lubeck | Executive Vice President, Executive Director, Bernstein-Rein Advertising / Unbound
Cathi Perkins | Business Optimization Manager, Butler/Till Media Services

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The Unbound Model


Think of your agency as a consultancy. Push for client investment.

The Investment

  • Basic discovery. Understand the client’s business.
  • Initial in-person discussion. Conducted with account managers and strategists only.
  • Draw the line. No more free consultation; proceed if aligned, and if the opportunity looks promising.

The Approach

  • Consultants first. Going into a prospective assignment, we begin as consultants.
  • Agency second. Only after the client has committed to a relationship with the agency.
Where There’s Challenge…There’s Opportunity


Project assignments are part of your agency’s financial portfolio.

Pricing must be based on value, not on cost.


  • Activity/deliverable-based pricing. PxP assignments provide the opportunity to be paid on value rather than on time and costs.
  • Fixed fees for discovery and onboarding.
  • All efforts/costs are billable. Make sure you are compensated for everything, including up-front planning, rushes, and excessive rounds of creative.
  • Maximizing overall profit. Focus on the services and talent that produce the highest margins.


  • Fewer changes and modifications on PxP assignments. The work is known upfront and typically requires less significant change than scopes planned under an AOR- or campaign-based arrangement.


  • Greater ability to require favorable contract terms. These may include more favorable terms on payment, limitation on liability, non-compete provisions, and billable vs. non-billable costs, than under an AOR- or campaign-based arrangement.
  • Use short-form contracts.


  • Harder to manage. Greater reliability on freelance.
  • Resourcing needs to be faster and more agile.
  • Account staff need to be hunters.


Developing a More Agency-Centric, Holistic Approach to Managing PxP


Service PxP assignments by using project management methodologies and developing an agency-centric approach on one platform.

Related tools include:

  • project charters
  • project timelines
  • risk management planning (matrixes)
  • change requests
  • project post-mortems

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