Cannes. And Agency Crocodile Tears Over Remuneration

This post is by Stephan Argent, CEO of Argedia Group and a member of the Marketing FIRST Forum, the global consulting collective co-founded by TrinityP3

Agency remuneration problem

Yes, it’s almost that time of year again when the advertising community celebrates the best of the best at Cannes. Until 2012 it was known as the ‘International Advertising Festival’ then renamed the ‘Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity‘ as it’s known today.

And it’s that ‘creativity’ piece that’s got me (and not in a good way).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for celebrating, sharing and focusing on creativity on a global scale and recognising the very best creative talent on the planet. But to me, this not-so little ‘festival of creativity’ has somehow lost its way and taken a nosedive into commercialism and excess that’s worthy of having a flashy ‘Trump’ logo emblazoned upon it.

Cannes for me has definitely become ‘Cannes Not’.

Among the invitations I received this year there was one from an agency that invited me to join advertising’s crème de crème on a yacht, moored near the Palais des Festivals, and includes:

  • ‘An intimate lunch with other top marketing executives (on board our yacht out in the bay)’
  • ‘Evening drinks party on the yacht (moored by the Palais)’

Out of curiosity, I followed the wavy line on the invitation all the way to the name of the yacht which, it appears, any Martin, John or Michael could rent for a cool 200,000 Euros ($300,000 CDN) a week.

And speaking of cost…

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How many brief types does an advertiser need to brief their agency?

This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3With his background as analytical scientist and creative problem solver, Darren brings unique insights and learnings to the marketing process. He is considered a global thought leader on agency remuneration, search and selection and relationship optimisation.

I have noticed recently there have been a number of consultants and industry commentators again talking about the perennial problem of briefing. Quite rightly too, because in the endless search for advertising effectiveness, the process starts with the brief.

Joe Talcott, ex-McDonald’s Marketing Chief and Creative Evangelist highlights nine big mistakes he notices marketers make when briefing. Meanwhile Casey Jones, CEO at BriefLogic shared advice on why marketing briefs should not be brief and the important difference between the marketing brief and the agency brief.

And Bruno Gralpois at Agency Mania Solutions provided advice on the importance of focus in the agency brief asking “Are your briefs tight enough?”

Agency brief types

All of this is terrific advice garnered from years of experience on both sides of the client / agency relationship. But one of the biggest issues that I have not seen discussed is the wide range of briefing types, often within the same organisation.

In our work calculating and assessing agency remuneration based on the scope of work we have been exposed to a large number of companies globally and have seen many different types of briefing formats from marketers in a wide range of categories.

Here I want to share some of these formats with you, identified by the TrinityP3 consultants including Anita Zanesco, Kylie Riddler-Dutton and Nathan Hodges. Presented in no particular order, I think it would be valuable to try and understand and assess their purpose and efficacy.

The Template Brief

Very popular with agencies, the brief template allocates space for the advertiser to provide the information in the appropriate format and structure. Unfortunately the template has significant limitations, because in filtering the task at hand to fit the template, the advertiser will often miscommunicate their true intent and in the process the agency will be misdirected.

It does tick the boxes for ensuring the essential information like the brief date and the budget are requested. But many feel that template briefs lead to template creative solutions.

The Email Brief

My colleague in the US, Michael Farmer, shared an example of an email brief. This is the brief written by the time poor marketer on the run.

Subject line was “Brief” and the body of the email was “Have $200,000 approximately, need to do more of that digital stuff. Can you get back to me next Tuesday with plans?”

It certainly lives up to the concept of being brief, but I am not sure it is particularly informative or helpful in framing the task or the expected outcome.

The Missing Brief

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Are Advertisers “Bad Hombres” for Their Ad Agencies?

This post is by Michael Farmer, 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.

Ad agencies

Ad agencies have had a tough time for the past decade. Reduced retainers. Disappearing AOR relationships, as clients expanded their portfolios of agencies. Inflating Scopes of Work, straining the capabilities of agencies’ downsized and juniorised staffs.

There’s more to this. Auction-based bidding of SOW projects. Inhouse agencies. Advertising relationships embracing management consulting firms. Significantly shortened agency-client relationships.

Profits, required by holding company owners, have been hard to come by, leading to agency restrictions on travel, salaries and hiring.  Where will this end?  Clients (particularly procurement) look like “bad hombres” to their agencies.

A global agency CFO put it to me this way: “Clients will do what they want to do. If they’ve decided to cut fees, they’ll cut fees. They’ll benchmark with irrelevant benchmarks. They’ll ignore Scope of Work arguments. One of our largest clients cut our fees by 30% last year and they told us that there will be another 25% next year.  We have no recourse. Take it or leave it.”

Agencies, caught as they are between fee-cutting clients and profit-hungry owners, take this personally, feeling like victims in a situation that they cannot influence.

That’s what happens when the symptoms of a larger problem are defined as the problem.

Fee cutting, SOW inflation, declining influence, increased competition, agency turnover: These are symptoms of dissatisfied clients who are failing to grow their brands, and in the face of this failure are dis-investing in their agency relationships, which are not delivering the goods.
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Managing Marketing: The challenges of marketing and advertising in the financial services category

Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 Founder and Global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Jon Holloway is the founder of Zuper Superannuation and here he discusses with Darren the challenges and failures of financial services companies in leveraging the full potential of marketing and advertising to innovate and build their banking and insurance brands and businesses in Australia.

Jon Holloway Podcast

You can listen to the podcast here:

Follow Managing Marketing on Soundcloud or iTunes

Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing and today I’m joined by Jon Holloway who is the founder of Zuper Superannuation, but this is his latest adventure because Jon’s actually got quite a significant history in FinTech, advertising and marketing and so I thought he would be the ideal person to have a chat with about what’s wrong with advertising and how can we fix it? Welcome, Jon.

Jon:

Thank you very much, glad to be here.

Darren:

Well, what is wrong with advertising?

Jon:

That’s a massive question. Where do you even start with something that big? Talking about my history for a little bit –I started running my own businesses, creating products and services, then kind of fell into marketing and advertising and advertising agencies and am now back building products and services again.

And so, coming full circle again with advertising in my soul.

Darren:

It’s been ingrained into you.

Jon:

Having worked, putting my own money on the line to create businesses using other people’s money and then being an agency and kind of doing all of those things has been an interesting journey.

I think the major problem with advertising right now is we seem to have lost our marketing nous. Marketing is a thing. Advertising is part of that.

Darren:

That’s right.

Jon:

My general view and it comes from a lot of the stuff I write is that advertising people have not been particularly good marketers and marketers aren’t particularly good marketers. So, when you get these two kind of forces together what you create is this symbiotic lack of reality which is advertising.

Darren:

I just want to challenge you there because I think a lot of marketers are not good business people as well.

Jon:

I’ve not started on business. My view of where we’ve come from is years ago marketing and product used to sit next to each other, almost connected to each other. Pulling those two pieces apart, pulling advertising and media apart has taken the marketing person and the agency another step further away from the product, so that what we see right now is we’re not getting great products, we’re not getting great marketing and we’re not getting great advertising.

That whole construct of marketing people understanding business and then what the industry is asking advertising people to do, which is to solve business problems, is something which has been fundamentally outside of the category for thirty years. You don’t find many marketers or advertising people who have a product understanding or have an understanding of how to build a business and how to take that to market.

They’re stuck in this realm or this sphere of advertising, which is ‘we will create something which sits somewhere and someone will see–it’s communication—not necessarily taking a great product and taking it to market in the best way possible.

When marketing is reduced to being just promotions

Darren:

I think one of the great smoke and mirrors or shell games that the industry has played on itself is when we separated, as you say, product from marketing to then say, ‘well this is still marketing’ when in actual fact what it became was the promotions department.

You go to the four Ps—what was left was the promotions and then the only obsession was with media and advertising as the tools of promotion but it still called itself marketing.

Within organisations, like banks for instance, (because you have a history and experience with the finance sector) pricing is done over here, product development is basically what are our competitors doing and how can we mimic that and make it maybe slightly better in one way to give us distinction or differentiation? And all that’s happening in a separate part of the business from the marketing, which is actually the promotions department.

Jon:

Well I thinking banking is an interesting (especially in Australia) industry because the only differentiation between the big four banks other than who else they own is the brand. It’s the bit that goes out to market. The underlying products are generally the same.

Darren:

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The Low Road or the High Road for Ad Agencies compensation?

This post is by Michael Farmer, 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.

Ad agencies compensation

The industry road that ad agencies are wandering down is about to narrow. Sooner or later, agencies will find themselves at a fork that is less like a choice and more like an inevitability. The fork will not involve a 50-50 choice. Heads to the left; tails to the right? No; it’s not that kind of fork. The choice will be between the High Road, to the left, and the Low Road to the right.

The choice is not about political choice during this Trumpian age. It’s not about Blue States to the left or Red States to the right. It’s not about brands-as-causes versus brands-as-brands.

Nor is it a choice between the High Road of creativity, with Big Ideas, brand equity and Lovemarks to the left — and the Low Road of data, analysis and spreadsheets to the right. The choice is not about Art versus Science, even though many writers and journalists seem split on the subject. It’s not about “we need to be more creative” versus “we need to be better with data and analysis.”

It’s also not a choice between traditional advertising — TV, radio and print — and digital and social content, although to hear agencies talk about it today you’d think that they need to be good at everything, and there’s no fork in the road at all. This TV versus digital type of choice is a distraction from what is important.

The real choice is about future money — the real lifeblood of an agency. Where are future fees going to come from? What services will the agency provide and be paid for? How much money can agencies expect to receive? Will there be a growing stream of fees, like a torrent after a downpour, or will it be more like a river that slowly empties into the desert, narrowing and shrinking until it can no longer be seen?
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Addressing the ‘alternative facts’ of advertising production

This post is by Clive Duncan a Senior Consultant at TrinityP3. As a Director and DOP he has an appreciation for the value of great creative and outstanding production values, while also recognising the importance of delivering value for money solutions to the advertiser.

Alternative facts advertising productions

Living in a post truth world full of alternative facts and fake news may seem like a recent occurrence to some. But a real fact is that in advertising broadcast production there have been alternative facts for many years that survive the test of time and are perpetuated from one generation of agency producer to the next.

These alternative facts assist the agency from having to address the issues that plague the production category and alleviate the advertiser from ever having to worry about taking action to close the loopholes these alternative facts obscure. Loop holes that allow the agency and production house to operate without accountability and at an increased margin at the advertiser’s expense. Here are a couple of these alternative facts and their implications from the many that shroud the advertising production category.

Alternative Fact #1 – The Production Company Contract

There are many alternative facts that get quoted as industry standards in the production industry, and they usually involve what is touted as the industry standard contract. A classic example in Australia is the SPAA (Screen Producers Association of Australia) agreement.

This is often claimed by agency producers to be the only, official and legally recognised contract between the production house and the agency / advertiser when signing off the official engagement of a production house. This usually involves an up front payment of 50% of the agreed upon fee for the production of the TV commercial.

So let’s be honest here, the SPAA contract is not the only contract out there, there is also the Communications Council contract or individual contracts drafted by singular production houses (like the Master Services Agreement created by Tar Productions) all these contracts / agreements have two things in common:

  1. They are all drafted by the production houses and
  2. They are not the only alternative.

There is no reason why an advertiser or an agency on their behalf cannot draft their own production terms and conditions. Due to sheer lack of enthusiasm, pure laziness or the agency producer’s lack of knowledge the SPAA agreement gets cited as the “Official” contract.

Alternative fact #2 – Crew member fringes

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Tips for more successful agile marketing

This post is by Anton Buchner, a senior consultant with TrinityP3. Anton is one of Australia’s leaders in data-driven marketing. Helping navigate through the bells, whistles and hype to identify genuine marketing value when it comes to technology, digital activity, and the resulting data footprint.

Agile Marketing Tips

Beware agile marketing, it’s time to transform the terminology.

Are you an agile marketer?

Or have you heard someone say that they are doing ‘agile marketing’ recently?

We have heard the term being bandied about regularly in projects with local and global marketing teams for a few years now.

So for this post, I’d like to firstly demystify what agile marketing actually means. It’s not all about speed by the way!

As well as give some tips on how to make it work within your current organisational structure and roster of agencies.

What is agile marketing?

It’s a term that has stemmed from agile software development whereby solutions are created and evolved with cross-functional team collaboration.

Agile software development was designed to have all aspects of planning, analysis, design, coding, and testing included together to have working prototypes and products developed and presented to stakeholders for fast approval and implementation throughout defined release cycles.

Agile software development therefore, involves continuous refinement and improvement. It was apparently used as far back as the 1950s with early computing software testing. And most modern day developers are well versed in the philosophy and working methodology.

Agile marketing, on the other hand, has been recently coined to overcome the challenges that silo based organisational structures present in delivering go-to-market activity.

Fast start-ups and innovative organisations have realised processes and line management can stymie and significantly slow down go-to-market activity. Hence rapid collaboration on key projects in reaction to market change has become the modern day marketing mantra.

However, from TrinityP3’s perspective, marketers and agencies are mixing up speed to market with the essence of more effective collaborative creation.

Agile is not all about speed

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Industry Transparency Is a One-Way Mirror

This post is by Michael Farmer, 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.

Advertising Industry TransparencyAdvertisers have found many ways to dominate and commoditise their ad agency relationships.  Transparency is the latest hot issue, justifying outrage over certain media agency practices and setting the stage for reviews of media contracts and fees.

Agency hiring and firing remain another advertiser favourite, and the pace of agency replacement has certainly quickened over time.  Next in line are declining fees and growing creative Scopes of Work, along with benchmarking studies, the threat of internal agencies, intellectual property disputes, project-based bidding and lengthened payment terms.

Transparency is a wonderful all-inclusive term for these activities.  Advertisers have made agency operations transparent – their organisations, salary costs (by seniority and department), overhead costs (line by line), creative and analytical capabilities, production capabilities, pitching strategies, intellectual property concerns, contract practices, cashflow needs and negotiation weaknesses.

What a change from the media commission days, when agency operations were a “black box” for clients!  Agencies were special and creative; no one knew how they were organised, how many people they had, how the agency people were paid, and how agencies accomplished their creative magic.  One thing was sure, though: A single AOR in those days was completely dedicated to helping clients develop and grow their brands.

Today’s transparency is the transparency of a one-way mirror.  Advertisers can see into agencies; agencies can see only their own reflections.  We have watched enough police dramas on TV to know what a one-way mirror is: a sheet of glass that can be seen through from one side and is a mirror on the other, used especially for observation of criminal suspects (per Dictionary.com).

Agencies have little transparency into client operations or concerns.  Agencies no longer provide input to or have access to client five-year marketing plans; there is insufficient exclusivity, longevity or trust for this kind of strategic intimacy.  A client will not provide confidential access to the 20-plus agencies that provide services across all media types.

Agencies have little transparency or influence over Scope of Work planning, or fee-setting methodologies, or into briefing or ad approval processes. These remain under the tight control of their clients.

The real benefactors of transparency are the consultants who live off advertiser-agency relationships: the media auditors, contract auditors, search consultants, compensation specialists, cost consultants and benchmarkers. This must be an attractive business — even the vaunted Boston Consulting Group, usually known as an expensive blue-chip strategy consulting firm, is engaged in agency cost benchmarking — an activity that one consulting competitor described to me, with undisguised contempt, as bottom-feeding of the worst kind.

The open question is “how have advertisers benefited from increased transparency?”  On the one hand, advertisers have driven down the price they pay for agency services by 4.5% per year, compounded over the past 20 years, according to my research.  This is not insignificant.  Price for agency services has been cut by more than two-thirds since 1992.

On the other hand, increased transparency and its price erosion have led to a severe stretching of agency resources and capabilities.  Agency salaries lag those of consulting firms, Google and Facebook by a significant margin, and ad agencies no longer attract the best and the brightest. Transparency has weakened marquee ad agencies.
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How do I choose the right marketing contract compliance auditor for the job?

This post is by Adrian Jenkins, Founder and Director of Financial Progression, a firm of Chartered Accountants that specialises in marketing contract compliance.

marketing contract auditor

You’ve decided to do a marketing contract compliance audit, you’ve discussed whose budget is going to fund it and now you want to find a suitable provider to do the work. Where should you start?

1. Review your agency contract

In the clause on Audit Rights, it will not only set out the scope of any audit (and any limitations on the scope – see previous post), but it may also specify what type of auditor you can use.

There are different types of auditor I hear you say? I thought they all wore brown suits and kipper ties!

Well, sartorial choices aside, there are differences and it’s important to understand what they are and how it could impact the audit. In many agency contracts there will be clues that might not always be obvious to anyone other than a qualified accountant.

For example, if the audit clause says ‘Big 4 only’ it means that only Deloitte, KPMG, PwC or Ernst & Young can do the audit. If this is the case, you’ll be faced with a couple of issues, not least endorsing anti-competitive business practices if you limit yourself to these four firms (see previous post).

What each of the ‘Big 4’ has in common, however, is that they are firms of Chartered Accountants/Certified Public Accountants, which means that, as legal entities, they are regulated by a professional accountancy body, which should give you (and the agency for that matter) peace of mind that the people you are employing are professionally competent and suitably independent. If you have a clause like this in your contract, ANY firm of Chartered Accountants/Certified Public Accountants should be seen as an acceptable auditor (see previous post).

You might also have language in your contract that says very sensitive records of the agency may only be audited by an independent certified public accountancy firm. If so, it means that the ‘Big 4’ or any other firm of Chartered Accountants/Certified Public Accountants can be used.

The reason you’ll often see this type of language in contracts is that for very sensitive information agencies want to be sure that both the individual auditors looking at the documentation and the firm that employs them are subject to the rules, regulations and ethical standards of a professional accountancy body. It’s all about keeping confidential information, well, confidential.

2. Ask yourself “Is the auditor suitably independent and subject to professional oversight?”

Some providers of marketing contract compliance services are not firms of Chartered Accountants/Certified Public Accountants, but rather consultancies staffed by qualified accountants who are themselves members of a professional accountancy body (that’s a confusing area too – in the UK there are five well-known accountancy bodies and you’re much more likely to find qualified auditors in three of them).

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8 ‘Less Obvious’ Reasons Why Agencies Lose Pitches

This post is by David Angell, TrinityP3 General Manager and Head of Media. David has extensive commercial and media experience gained through a fifteen year career in media agencies, which he uses to help drive optimal results for TrinityP3 clients.

Agencies lose pitches

Pitches can be very capricious. The blend of human intuition, rhetoric, substance and circumstance can make even the best agency lose over the course of a pitch process.

No one says that it’s perfect. But there’s a world of difference between a well-run pitch process and a bad one.

Some mistakes are clichés…some are not.

There are some pitch mistakes, made by agencies, which are obvious although often repeated (chest thumping attitude, not listening, not bringing the right people, banging on about oneself, profound gender skews in meeting rooms, etc).

But there are some others that may go unnoticed by many.

The agencies who have pitched and lost on projects I’ve run with my team at TrinityP3 may be familiar with some of what follows, as I tend to try and provide as much feedback as I can – beyond the blasé, meaningless platitude of ‘you were a close second’ to something more insightful, that may even be used by said agency at a later date.

We want you to succeed, not fail.

My approach is this: I want every fundamentally decent agency I work with in a pitch project to eventually get a win ‘with TrinityP3’ (this excludes arseholes, which I think is fair enough).

I want all agencies to be in a position to put their best foot forward at every step.

The best problem for me in a pitch is having a group of finalists who are all so good that the client has trouble choosing between them.

In that spirit, I am happy to share these experience-based thoughts with you – eight not-so-obvious mistakes that agencies often make in pitches. Have a read and see what you think.

1. The MD or CEO does too much talking.

Few things are more off-putting to most clients than an overbearing CEO. Finding the right balance, style and amount of contribution can be hard. To a client, an overbearing CEO can demonstrate anything from rhetoric over substance, an autocratic culture, or a lack of confidence in his or her own team.

2. The balance between demonstration of core requirements and other services is skewed.

Media agencies have developed creative capability. Advertising agencies now do data and media. The client gets that. But it is becoming more common for agencies to talk up or build in their diversified services in a pitch response to the point where it becomes confusing, irritating, or – worst of all – generates suspicion in the clients mind that if this agency is appointed, it will be off on a land-grab from day one.

3. The GAD or Business Director is not given enough of a role.

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Advertisers with Performance Problems Turn to Management Consultants

This post is by Michael Farmer, 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

advertiser performance

“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?

Management consulting firms are not a recent invention. McKinsey was established in 1926, a year that marked “the invention of management consulting,” the company says.

The management consulting firms began to flourish in the 1960’s and 1970’s, when corporations first experienced serious performance problems due to the complexity of global operations; the excessive use of energy during the oil shock decades; competition from higher-quality, lower-cost Japanese manufacturers; problems integrating acquired new businesses during the M&A boom; problems developing and integrating management information systems, and so forth.

The Boston Consulting Group was founded in 1963; Bain & Company in 1973; Accenture in 1989, and Deloitte Consulting in 1995 (although the original Deloitte dates from 1845).

Each consulting firm had a clear specialty during the formative years. McKinsey specialised in reorganising companies into decentralised profit centers. BCG and Bain focused on corporate strategy; Accenture and Deloitte were expert in developing and integrating management information systems.

Since then, though, the consulting firms are converging as their practice areas overlap and their clients’ performance problems intensify.

What links the consulting firms into a coherent competitive threat is their focus and experience in solving high-level corporate performance problems for CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, profit-centre presidents and heads of procurement.

The typical consulting firm charges out its people at a multiple of 5.0x their salaries, higher than the ad agency multiple, which ranges from 2.2x to 2.5x. The high consulting fees can only be justified if improved results are the outcome. It takes high-level consulting relationships to solve high-level performance problems.

Most ad agencies work at a lower level with their clients and focus on creativity as their value-added — creativity that builds brands and engages consumers. The problem is, it isn’t working all that well today.
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Why providing consultancy with integrity is more important than ever

This post is by David Angell, TrinityP3 General Manager and Head of Media. David has extensive commercial and media experience gained through a fifteen year career in media agencies, which he uses to help drive optimal results for TrinityP3 clients.

Consultancy with Integrity

Consultants. They often get a bad rap, particularly in the marketing industry.

I work with many clients in a consultative capacity, across anything from bespoke vision or structural alignment projects, through contractual and remuneration assessment, to market pitches or agency selection work. I’ve also worked with many consultants in my agency days.

The majority of the clients we work with are pretty happy. I would like to say that the majority of agencies we’ve worked with are – well, at least not unhappy – with the way in which we handle them.

But we can’t ignore the broader negative perceptions surrounding the motives of consultants, the capability and contextual knowledge of consultants, the process and fairness of consultants.

The fact that the larger management consultancy groups such as Accenture are now setting up practices that directly compete with the same agencies they audit as part of their consultancy work does not make such perceptions any easier to combat.

There are always going to be bad experiences, things that go wrong, negative perceptions or people feeling sore about something. That’s OK. For me personally, someone can be hugely unhappy with something I’ve done as a consultant and I won’t mind – as long as, despite the unhappiness, that person can understand that at the end of the day, I’ve consulted with integrity.

For the record, here’s a framework of values I use to define Consultancy with Integrity.

Objectivity

Pretty obvious. But important. Objectivity means never working on a payment by results remuneration model or in any other way that generates significant conflict of interest. It means being willing to point things out to your own client, at individual level, that may not be welcome.

It means working to a project outcome or recommendation that offers mutual benefits to all sides, not just one side. It means trying to gain proper context from every angle of any operation. It means being honest. Continue reading “Why providing consultancy with integrity is more important than ever”

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Time to pitch your agency or not? And when it is the only answer

This post is by Anita Zanesco, a Senior Consultant at TrinityP3. Anita brings a unique blend of insights, creativity and understanding to the communications industry particularly in the areas of talent management, agency process and new business pitch management.

pitch your agency

That indeed is the question many marketers ask themselves when agencies aren’t performing.

Given one of our services at TrinityP3 is Pitch Consultancy, and I get paid to be a Pitch Consultant, one might think I would answer: “Pitch of course!” But alas, you would be mistaken to think I would say that without asking a few very pointed questions first.

The TrinityP3 view has always been that to pitch your agency should be a last resort after all other potential ways of resolving a situation have been addressed.  The grass is not always greener on the other side, in fact sometimes it’s a rather murky brown once the honeymoon period is over, and it’s only when a relationship has been truly decimated, that we would recommend a review and pitch.

So if the question is keeping you awake at night, here are some things to consider and some more questions to ask yourself before you spend a considerable amount of time and money on a pitch process.

1. Why is your agency not performing?

List the reasons you are unhappy and do that strange thing people in the communications industry sometimes forget about – talk to them. You may find all sorts of things that are easily and readily addressed.

They may not be getting the information they need from you in a detailed and timely fashion, creating delays and frustration at both ends; they may have been having staffing issues that are about to be resolved; there may be a personality clash that can be resolved by a simple change of team structure; there may be a differing perspective on creativity and the type of communications your brand requires and their agency delivers.

2. Do both teams have the right structure in place to deliver the marketing communications functions required?

Again, a fairly straightforward question but if the teams in place do not have the right experience, knowledge and capabilities it will result in inferior results.

3. Do you have the right agencies or too many agencies on your roster?

Continue reading “Time to pitch your agency or not? And when it is the only answer”

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Why advertisers should never accept a ‘sound-alike’ music track for advertising

This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3With his background as analytical scientist and creative problem solver, Darren brings unique insights and learnings to the marketing process. He is considered a global thought leader on agency remuneration, search and selection and relationship optimisation.

The international scandal from New Zealand concerning the court case between the publisher of Eminem’s song Lose Yourself and the National Party of New Zealand reminds us why advertisers should be very careful when it comes to copyright, music rights and intellectual property.

 

During my career as a copywriter I witnessed on so many occasions situations that could easily have ended up in the same embarrassing court battle that the National Party of New Zealand is currently facing.

This is because many people in the industry and advertisers themselves believe that if they can’t afford the original music track then it is okay to commission a sound-alike track for often a fraction of the cost of the rights. But it isn’t. And if caught it will end up costing you significantly more.

Perhaps if the National Party and their agencies had only read our Top Ten on how to avoid this?

How does this happen

While not wanting to speculate on the trial happening in New Zealand, let me recount the steps of a very similar situation that occurred at an agency I worked at last century.

The agency had presented a campaign concept to the Government and to drive the action had used a well-known anthemed music track by an international band, knowing that the cost of licencing the track would be too expensive.

Being the Government the agency knew they would research the concepts and of course the agency concept won largely because of the popularity and power of the music track. The agency was appointed to the business and following rounds of rewrites of the concept to meet the Government requirements, the one thing that did not change was the music track on the original concept. That is until the final budget was presented.

Continue reading “Why advertisers should never accept a ‘sound-alike’ music track for advertising”

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Retuning the Marketing ‘Orchestra’

This post is by Michael Farmer, 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.

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!”

Marketing’s performance, too, is less than stellar. Brand growth has been stagnant for the past decade, particularly for legacy brands. The portfolio of agencies has been increased, each agency “best in class” in its area of expertise — TV, radio, print, direct marketing, PR, events / sponsorship, website design, email marketing and social media – but there’s something missing in the way that the agencies play together, like the discordant Bach orchestra.

It doesn’t matter if you have the best players in the world — their playing needs to be coordinated.

One problem is the length of time that the orchestra plays together under the conductor. CMOs, who are blamed by CEOs for the lack of brand growth, turn over every 3-4 years, and their replacements tend to change some if not all the resident agencies.

Each CMO has a unique style, and it takes some time for CMOs to come to grips with the brand-growth problem and coordinate the marketing efforts accordingly. Often, CMOs are not in place long enough to make a difference. Continue reading “Retuning the Marketing ‘Orchestra’”

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