Opinion: Marketing Society - Be bold to get results

Remember the famous ads for Hamlet, Heineken, Flake and Smash? Can you remember the words to Pepsi's brilliant 'Lipsmackin' ad? Do Fudge and Milky Bar commercials remind you of being eight? These ads were the result of brave marketers inspiring brilliant ad men and women to produce memorable work.

Now marketing agencies are under attack by 'experts' from consultancies and the media. The role of marketing has changed and the days of ad agencies are numbered, they say. Marketing is not accountable, measurable or effective enough; marketers cannot get the ear of the chief executive; procurement teams are analysing agency 'extravagance'; and there are commercial directors who will put upstart marketers in their place.

Marketing needs to remember what it does best as a profession. Management consultants are good at consulting management; lawyers consult on the law; accountants advise on the numbers. Marketers conduct the brand, inspire agencies to produce great campaigns and enable staff to deliver the brand.

Other business functions cannot do this. Marketing brings the 'magic' of business and brand alive for the consumer. Great marketing creates great brands by researching consumers, identifying opportunities and training people to deliver compelling customer service.

Management consultants weep at the fun marketing brings to the business world. It is the one area of business that they find difficult to measure effectively - even the legendary Lord Leverhulme could not measure which half of his advertising investment worked.

ITV Sales has commissioned a study into the effectiveness of television at building famous brands. Justin Sampson, director of customer relationship management at ITV Sales, has been quoted as saying: 'The research should provide practical assistance to advertisers to understand the nature of fame, how it impacts on business success, and the levers that need to be pulled to improve brand fame.'

We all want to play our part in building famous brands, and the key issue is return on investment. But remember that evaluating return on marketing spend is still far from an exact science. You need to measure ROI, but don't forget the magic that marketing brings to brands. As Einstein said: 'Imagination is more important than knowledge in science.' The same could be applied to marketing.

From talking to some of the senior marketers and agency executives at the recent Financial Times Creative Business 50 evening, I know that in the 70s more marketing and advertising people had the confidence to take bold decisions. They didn't have to worry about whether they should be measuring everything in sight. The truth is, you can measure the past, but you can't measure the future.

So the message to chief executives is that they should make room for marketers at the top table. They need them to make their brands famous and remembered, even 30 years from now.


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