Does funding innovation come before protecting marketing jobs? The Marketing Society Forum

Procter & Gamble has announced plans to shed staff while increasing its focus on digital ads.


Firstly, innovation does not always require investment. In my experience, the best and most creative marketing often comes from a constrained brief.

That said, we are not in business for the preservation of our own jobs or lifestyles. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe any marketing-led business exists to add value for its customers. This means continuous innovation.

Sometimes, it means changing the size and shape of the marketing team, bringing in fresh ideas and asking some people to move on and try other things in their lives.

I can't think of an innovation that's come from protecting jobs. I can think of plenty born of change, disruption and constraint.


For many FMCG brands marketing trumps innovation. Perhaps innovations are marginal, or easily replicable, or not interesting enough in the grand scheme of things to generate awareness off their own bat.

In these cases it is up to marketing to sell new product development ice to the Eskimos. In other cases it's the opposite. Take Google's expanding suite of tools. Marketing is not required to add a further 'brand' to such involving products; neither is it required to crow about services that generate fame of their own accord.

So there we are. A dull, sit-on-the-fence maybe. I'll be painting the living room beige next...


Just before presenting a campaign once, I was told by a client that he had a choice: he could spend money on the campaign, or on painting the call centre toilets. From his point of view, smart toilets meant better customer service, while return on ads was not so certain. Meanwhile his competitor, 118 118, created an innovative product and a mould-breaking ad. I suspect he ended the year 'right-sizing' his organisation dramatically.

Innovation has to be smart. Apple serves people who 'think different' and innovation flows. Nokia innovates but it is not clear who it serves. What is clear is which company is providing better job protection.


I don't see this as a direct trade-off - it's more complex than reducing headcount to grow the innovation pipeline. And the key to delivering great innovation is great people.

You have to be obsessed by your cost base, but having highly talented people is the prize, rather than absolute savings.

There are opportunities for growth in Europe but we have to work even harder to find them. Cutting costs can be part of this, but it's not the primary objective.


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