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Author Archives: Michael Farmer

About Michael Farmer

Michael Farmer is Chairman of TrinityP3 USA and author of Madison Avenue Manslaughter: an inside view of fee-cutting clients, profit-hungry owners and declining ad agencies, which won the Axiom Gold Business Book Award for the best marketing / advertising book of 2016. He currently serves as Adjunct Associate Professor of Branding and Integrated Communications at The City College of New York (CCNY) and is at work on a new book about the challenges facing Chief Marketing Officers.

Advertisers with Performance Problems Turn to Management Consultants

“Watch out! They are coming!” reported The Drum when Accenture and Deloitte appeared on the pitch list for Nissan-Renault’s global account review. They are “spreading their tentacles, seduced by marketing services!” Accenture sees it another way: “CMOs are seeking our talents, not the other way around.” Is consulting going to the mountain, or is the mountain coming to consulting? Continue reading

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Retuning the Marketing ‘Orchestra’

The marketing ‘orchestra’ needs to be reorganised and re-tuned. The orchestra players are highly skilled and totally dedicated. The problem is, they’re playing different scores, even if the music was written by the same composer. The first violins are playing a Bach fugue. The second violins are performing a Bach prelude. The cellos are holding their own with the Second Brandenburg concerto. The string bass players are improvising – Bach jazz-fusion. And the conductor? Frustrated, he / she stops the playing. “Again, the Bach! From the top!” Continue reading

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CMOs, Shareholder Value and the Decline of Marketing Risk-Taking

You’d have to be older than a Millennial to remember a time when corporate CEOs were heavily involved in marketing decisions, like increased spend on media, the development of new Big Idea ads, the launching of new consumer products (rather than the spitting out of line extensions) and the formulation of strategies designed to outsmart competitors. That was a time before “shareholder value” became the universal corporate objective — the value to be delivered to shareholders because of management’s ability to grow earnings, dividends and share price. Continue reading

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Why cost benchmarking is the waterboarding of the advertising industry

Procurement and benchmarking rose to corporate prominence once “increased shareholder value” became the advertiser’s mantra. Marketing declined in importance, from an investment to achieve brand growth to a cost to be optimised. Benchmarking consultants jumped on the bandwagon. 4As shamefully accepted the ANA benchmarking trend with hardly a whimper, leaving its members to fend for themselves. Benchmarking is the waterboarding of the industry, enhanced interrogation that weakens its subjects but develops no useful information. Although benchmarking has become commonplace, it has had no positive long-term benefits. Indeed, the opposite is true — advertiser brands are still not growing, CMOs last in their jobs only half as long as CEOs and agencies have been compromised and weakened. Continue reading

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Agency Remuneration: A Loser’s Game

Chief Marketing Officers and their colleagues in procurement have been driving down agency remuneration for more than a decade. Simultaneously, they have been growing Scopes of Work, experimenting with digital and social marketing. Is marketing getting something for nothing, or is it playing a loser’s game? Advertiser-agency relationships have devolved over the past several decades. What was once the strongest of strategic relationships during the golden age of the Creative Revolution has become lopsided and imbalanced. Continue reading

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It’s more than the agency roster and the scope of work. It’s the relationship, stupid!

The disappearance of AOR relationships between advertisers and their creative agencies was not a good thing for either party. Both are at fault for letting this happen, and now both parties have suffered the consequences. Advertisers have to manage complex portfolios of specialised agencies who compete for a portion of the total fee. Advertisers have to take the responsibility for planning the detailed Scopes of Work and decide which agencies will be briefed for which deliverables. Continue reading

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Drowning in Marketing Deliverables

There’s more to the Digital and Social Revolution than programmatic media, online videos, data analysis and overnight billionaires. There’s something else, and it’s called an avalanche of workload. Ad agencies are drowning in deliverables. Scopes of Work are out of control. Advertisers are experimenting, experimenting, experimenting with out-of-scope digital and social deliverables, and agencies are overwhelmed with the amount of work they have to get out the door on a daily basis. Continue reading

Posted in agency remuneration / compensation, agency solutions, industry news & trends, marketing process optimisation, media planning & buying, mobile marketing, social media & digital marketing | Comments Off on Drowning in Marketing Deliverables

Can Procurement Fix Madison Avenue’s Mess?

Could Madison Avenue’s mess be any worse? The unhappy picture can be reconstructed from articles in the trade press over the past two years. They say the following: Legacy brands are languishing in the marketplace. The consumer transition from Baby Boomers to Millennials has been rocky and unsuccessful for too many large marketers. CMOs are being held responsible for the lack of growth, and their tenure is only half as long as that of CEOs’. The average CEO will go through two CMOs and see a lot of marketing smoke and mirrors. In marketing, there’s uncertainty about what media mix to use, and there are major concerns about the effectiveness of digital and social media, even though the spend level in these areas is growing. Continue reading

Posted in agency remuneration / compensation, agency solutions, Evalu8ing - Relationship Performance Monitoring, industry news & trends, marketing process optimisation, marketing procurement, strategic management | Comments Off on Can Procurement Fix Madison Avenue’s Mess?

Organisational Mishmash: The Ad Agency’s Unaccountable Structure

The global ad agency has become a complex, unmanageable mishmash of organisational positions. Complexity reigns. Accountability is invisible if it exists at all. No wonder clients are able to take such advantage of their agencies, loading on unpaid out-of-scope work and cutting fees! Top agency executives, though aware of the problem, are unable to launch a management counter-offensive. No one has the responsibility for the problem or the authority to turn things around. Continue reading

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What Kind of CMO Leadership Do Advertisers Need Today?

CMOs are getting a lot of attention from the trade press these days, where writers drag in the usual suspects — Big Data, analytical skills, experiential marketing, Instagram, programmatic buying, Facebook, mobile platforms, Millennials, AI, Virtual Reality, etc. All to demonstrate how CMOs need to become superhuman masters of everything new and challenging, pushing themselves and their marketing organisations to achieve higher levels of marketing and technological sophistication. Continue reading

Posted in agency remuneration / compensation, agency solutions, data & direct marketing, industry news & trends, interesting observations, marketing process optimisation, marketing procurement, return on investment, strategic management | Comments Off on What Kind of CMO Leadership Do Advertisers Need Today?