Thursday, September 27, 2012

We are talking to the wrong guy

Anyone in advertising has seen this a million times. You come in with a huge idea. I mean something that can blow the lid off the world. It involves an app, a few websites, an event at Piccadilly Circus, global partnerships that are ready to go, installations all around the world, a gigantic retail promotion, vendor training, changing internal processes, new pricing structures, changes to the packaging, and yeah, some advertising too.

And they love it.

It's great, it's bold, it's just what they were looking for.


They'll just take the advertising. "Maybe we'll do the other stuff in Phase 2", they say, which is code for "never-in-a-million-years".

The problem here is, that the people in charge of briefing ideas for agencies are the people in charge of buying advertising. It's an organizational issue. All this time the clients have been nagging for an integrated agency model and yet most clients live in little boxes, looking at one thing at a time. "Oh, that stuff belongs to the website team, but it was a good idea anyways."

Advertising ideas aren't clean-cut. The best ideas are messy and they will not match the organizational conveniences of any company. You need a bull-dozer as a client. Someone who can get all the right people to sit down and agree to pull it off. Someone who hasn't booked a bunch of television time and is only interested in filling that slot. Someone who can analytically crunch numbers, but also once in a while take a leap of faith because it feels right in the general groin region. You need someone other people will listen to.

I think that guy is more likely to be the CEO than the CMO. You know, the Steve Jobs school of managing marketing.

Okay, maybe you don't have a Steve Jobs available, so at least the marketing teams should act as interfaces into the organization, not just catapults shooting material out into the wild. They should help find all the right people and get them on board something crazy. I'm talking about operational people. People who make things. Business and process owners. The finance guys. The IT-people. That one guy who is in charge of all the brand dashboards. Agencies need access and backing from marketing organizations in order to execute great work.

And unless that happens, I'm afraid that we're stuck talking to the wrong guy.

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