The Client Council was unveiled today during the inaugral address by new IPA president Ian Priest.
Here, some of those marketers, including Diageo global CMO Andy Fennell and British Gas commercial director Will Orr, give their thoughts on the issue of commercial creativity and how agencies and clients can better work together.
Challenging times means they want this commercial creativity to work
Andy Fennell, global CMO, Diageo (right) - "At a time where everything’s changing so rapidly, we not only need to be very adaptive, I completely agree with that, because our choices are so much broader than they were in the past, even in the recent past, but we also have to remember what we’re in the business of doing. We’re in the business of building brands and selling them, preferably for higher prices. Most clients are for-profit organisations, they want to do good in the world too, but they’re also in business for a commercial endeavour. Creativity is important because if you’re going to be more successful than the other guy, then you need to find a way of being fresh and interesting and distinctive."
Creativity is a competitive advantage
Jonathan Mildenhall, vice-president global advertising and creative excellence, Coca Cola – "It’s through outstanding creativity that our brands become even more salient in the hearts of minds of consumers all over the world. The Coca Cola Company has long held that belief that creativity is a competitive advantage. But then personally, even before I got into the Coca Cola Company, I did realise that actually some of the most dynamic organisations and the most dynamic brands, from a creative perspective, were also brands that were earning shareholders a disproportionate share of value."
On agencies and clients working together
Nigel Gilbert, key projects director, Virgin Management (right) – "There must be a mutual respect and I do have an absolute respect of agency skills; I’ve spent most of my working life in agencies and I love them, but I do recognise that sometimes they don’t kind of, step beyond their own remit and try to help the clients succeed."
Sally Cowdry, head of marketing, O2 – "So it’s also about everybody being focussed on ultimately the brand and the company winning and feeling that that’s the end goal, versus awards or ‘advertising being much better than my in store presence’, it’s about a common sense of purpose, a common sense of what success looks like."
David Magliano, brand director, The Co-operative Group – "When I was the marketing director of Go and then of EasyJet, you know the pressure, the job Peter Duffy is now doing at EasyJet, this sense of - you’re selling perishable inventory; airline seats that, once the plane has taken off, you can’t ever sell again. Unless the people acting for you on agencies, unless they sort of truly understand that, they’ll never be able to empathise with the gnawing anxiety you have all the time."
Jonathan Mildenhall – "I truly believe that clients get the creative work that they deserve and behind every fantastic ad campaign that’s out there, is a great client and behind every rubbish ad campaign out there, is a rubbish client. And the responsibility of getting brilliant work that is going to push a company’s marketing agenda forward rests 50% on the client organisation and 50% on the agency world."
Andy Fennell – "We believe that creativity will make that commercial feel more successful and we need to bring our own skills to the table. I expect to know my brands better than the agency will and I expect them to be experts in fresh ways of engaging people; in today’s era where long form content short form content etc etc. So we don’t want to become each other, but we do really need to kind of understand each other and therefore the shorter the distance between the client and the creative, the better."
David Pemsel, chief marketing officer, Guardian Media Group – "I think some of the most interesting conversations I have are with media agencies who when a media agency says ‘it’s about the idea’, they actually mean about genuine touch points, they genuinely mean about emersion, they mean about dwell time, they mean about spending time with the consumer."
Sally Cowdry (right) – "The big one for me when I started there is ruthless, through the line, execution and getting everybody really working together and seeing they’re all part of the customer communications. End to end versus SILOs. And every organisation has their SILOs and some are deeper and worse than others."
Andy Fennell – "What I ask is, "What’s your business problem?" which is the question we should always start with. "What’s the thing you want to achieve?" And as we become big clients, big agencies, and we become subsumed in the pursuit of awards and process, sometimes you just lose that really simplistic in the client’s several page brief, don’t forget to tell them what the problem is in the first place."
Chris MacLeod, marketing director, Transport for London – "And looking at ways of working there’s the Hollywood model. A bunch of people come together, make a great picture, and then move on and make another one. Ok you’ve got ensembles and support people and there’s the studio and celebrity brands, but it is very flexible and you know it sort of it rolls."
Jonathan Mildenhall (right) – "We have been very declarative to the industry that we’re increasingly going to develop ideas that are not TV centric. Doesn’t mean to say that we’re moving away from TV but, particularly for a teenage target audience that are walking around with their mobile phones stapled to their palms, starting with traditional media just doesn’t cut it for us. So now there are pockets of traditional thinking in the industry, and there are pockets of traditional thinking in the marketing community. But as I say, I think the responsibility to change the creative output on any brand is as much to do with the client as it is to do with the agencies.
"To be honest I’ve seen…I’ve been at Coke now for 6 years and in that time I’ve seen an erosion of confidence from the advertising industry and it breaks my heart, because I think it’s incredibly short sighted of the marketing community to beat upon the advertising industry, because you know we need creativity and we see creativity as an absolute competitive advantage. So what we want, what the Coca Cola Company want, is a massive confidence with our advertising agency partners; confidence that they’re going to develop massive ideas, and that those ideas will perform well in market-place. And if we get big ideas forming well in market-place, then through our compensation model, which we call BBC, there is a genuine opportunity for advertising agency partners to earn up to 30% margin on our business."
Nigel Gilbert – "It’s very difficult to find the right formula, I have tried, actively, to try and help that process by looking at the right formula and trying to reward success, and for the agency that helped you achieve it, to share in that success. Now sometimes it’s very difficult to find the right deal because of the fixed costs of an agency and the need to deliver, and of course I’m pretty familiar with how to do that, and what an agency’s prepared to put at risk. And invariably they want to put less at risk because they’ve got all the fixed costs, and they want to be able to deliver a margin, if they’re publicly quoted they need to deliver the margin and the right result for their holding company and so on. So I get that it’s very difficult to put very much at risk.
Will Orr, commercial director, British Gas (right) - "If there’s a contract where the relationship is sufficiently commercial and elevated, that you’re demonstrably delivering top line growth or finding ways to save money or example of reducing contact centre traffic etc, then people are going to get paid, and I think people are going to make money."
Andy Fennell - "So there’s something about the recession has created a cloud over what ought to be a very fertile environment in the UK and that cloud is still hanging over us a little bit. And as I travel around the world, most of my travel is to the emerging world, I go to Nigeria or India or Brazil, Vietnam, and you meet agency people who are less capable but have bigger ambition."
Nigel Gilbert – "Very strongly, I believe that agencies should be more interested in the results, and if they are then they should be remunerated for achieving them. So there is a virtuous circle here, you take more interest in what the outcomes are and you put some skin in the game, you should be rewarded for it. Clients are guilty, very guilty in my opinion, of insisting on some kind of incentive and then at the end of the day thinking of all the reasons they shouldn’t pay it."
Jonathan Mildenhall – "First of all, the industry has to get its swagger back. And I don’t know how the industry gets its swagger back, but we need a confident dynamic progressive industry that knows how to attract and retain talented people."