Could you give it to me in one paragraph? Why is there so much bad advertising? There’s an ecosystem within advertising based on relationships instead of results. Some agency people have marketing executives in their back pockets because they know how to stroke their egos and get them mentions in business magazines for their resumes. Of course, this comes from an industry that goes to Cannes to pat themselves on the back even if the results stink.
My first experience with the ad ecosystem came when several Directors in my department were offered tickets to the Super Bowl via luxury suites. According to research, I was taken back because the campaign cost a LOT of money and did nothing for sales or brand life. Three months later, they were gone leaving to take more high-profile jobs where they were eventually replaced.
The agency-client relationship used to be based on the two martini lunches. Ad agency people would wine and dine clients to milk every dollar they could from the budget. Today agencies suggest shooting spots in exotic locations as a kind of working vacation while clients sit back like producers making comments about the cast and script.
Research has shown that good client-agency relationships tend to produce less creative work. This is partly because agencies are reluctant to challenge risk-averse clients when doing so might threaten a good relationship. Also, a good brief containing many strategies seems to make little difference to the outcome when the agency and client are close, most likely because agencies prefer to rely on what they think the client wants instead of what’s in the brief.
The other reason is that too many people within agencies don’t dare to tell clients the truth about their branding or creative briefs. I worked with a craft chocolate maker in the Boston area whose agency was milking his budget for hundreds of thousands of dollars based on a creative brief changed mainly by the agency. The advertising was way off target, and talking with agency people made it painfully apparent that they saw my client as a bank.
A 30-second spot, a catchy jingle, and a clever slogan. But there’s more to advertising. An average human is exposed to around 5000 advertising messages in a day 99% of which they ignore. Brand advertising executives pat themselves on the back at clever commercials, but they don’t like being held accountable for results.
Of course, it’s not all the agency’s fault either. Some advertising executives are out for themselves, looking for significant bullet points on their resumes. Agency managers quickly pick up on this and do an excellent job responding to their needs to be the center of attention. This is one reason why CMO tenures are, on average, 40 months.
According to Marketing Dive, the marketing industry is growing increasingly digital, and the expectations of CMOs are constantly changing. Your CMO must have the leadership skills to focus your marketing efforts on a customer-centric approach, be more data-driven, and execute personalized marketing strategies to keep up with your competitors.
CMOSshave to hold agencies accountable and be smart enough to direct campaigns without getting in the way of what agencies do best. They also have to be smart enough to tell agencies “you’re on the wrong track” when it comes to creative. If you have ever sat in a meeting when a client tells an agency they’re heading down the wrong street, you know how uncomfortable it can be.
One of the great mysteries in CPG marketing is trying to understand how some CMOs wind up at big companies when they have no actual accomplishments other than getting ads on the air. Even if they didn’t produce results. The ecosystem is alive and well.