A couple of days ago I read this article about the newly designed #taxioftomorrow that will start appearing on New York streets in 2013. There were a lot of interesting tidbits in the article, among them, the yellow color is going to be brighter, the floor mats will be made from recycled materials, and the sound of the honk is changing. But what really struck me was the story of how Nissan, an automotive manufacturing company nearing its 80th year of operations had to learn how to behave like an agency.

For the Nissan designers every decision needed to be vetted internally and then approved by the client. Some decisions that Nissan thought would be easy approvals became lengthy discussions. One such decision was the partition between driver and rider. Wanting to embrace technology, the Nissan team pitched the idea of an intercom system. David Yassky, NYC Taxi Commissioner, didn’t approve. In addition to worrying about sound quality, Yassky shared a widely held belief by Drivers – connecting with riders generally earns them a better tip.

In my previous life at a large corporation I was always on the client side of agency interactions. Giving creative feedback was never easy, I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. However, as a brand manager I knew my job was as an advocate for the customer and the company. If my feedback was focused on customer insights, it was generally well received and aided in the creative process. The story about the divider reminded me of this. It’s a great example of a client and an agency working well together. Yassky didn’t tell Nissan that he didn’t like the closed divider, he told them about his customers’ needs. In this case the drivers’ need to make human contact.

For an old product company and a bunch of city politicians, this article portrays a relatively smooth process. I can’t wait to ride in the result!