AdWeek Europe: How Not To Do Marketing

AdWeek Europe: How Not To Do Marketing

Panellists talked about the shortcomings plaguing the industry, from over-reliance on data to the shortage of skilled graduates who prefer to work for Uber or Google rather than join big marketing companies.

Marketers rely too much on data, produce content that nobody watches, have to work with agencies that can’t work with each other, and can’t recruit the young people the industry is going to need in the future.

Those were the “elephants in the room”—the issues that no one talks about—that four senior marketers chose to air in the Advertising Week Europe session “The Uncomfortable Truth about Marketing,” led by Mark Earls of Herd Consultancy.

Patricia Corsi, VP foods & beverages U.K. & Ireland at Unilever, bemoaned marketers’ current over-reliance on data.

“I love the thrill of going into an agency and seeing the great creative, and I dread the day when I go in and they say ‘let’s see what the algorithm says.’ I think we’re losing the art,” she said. “Data for me is a means to an end. Overtesting won’t lead to overdelivery.”

Corsi confessed she is also concerned about the generation of young marketers being developed in this environment.

“I worry they won’t be able to take risky decisions without data.”

Young people and data were also a concern for Dominic Grounsell, global digital marketing director at Travelex, in particular those young people the marketing industry needs to recruit to meet its changing skills requirements.

“The type of people I’m trying to hire now are fundamentally different from 10 years ago,” he said. “We need more people with hard skills in maths and engineering, and they’re hard to hire.”

“We have a brand awareness problem with these young people. Consultancies and tech firms go and talk to them while they’re at university, but no one talks to them about marketing. We also spend all our time talking about TV ads and creative, but that’s only five minutes of what I do all day. Because we never talk about strategy, we’re trying to convince potential results we’re not the colouring-in team.”

Grounsell also pointed out that the type of graduates the industry needs also don’t want to work in big, stuffy, process-driven companies.

“They want to work for Uber or Google, or they want to start their own companies,” he said.

The big concern for Keith Moor, CMO of Santander, was the marketing content that no one watches. He gave the example of a video made for the bank that was seen by 603,000 people, only 5% of whom watched all the way through.

“And I was told by my agency that was good,” he said.

“We’ve got massively effective media targeting strategies for getting eyeballs, but they don’t help us get people to watch.”

His proposed solution is to throw out storytelling principles about building to a big pay-off and instead go to a direct marketing approach, telling people at the start why they should watch the video.

“It’s not the last five or 10 seconds of the video—the pay-off—that matters,” he said. “It’s the first five or 10 seconds.”

Finally, Mark Given, director of communication at Sainsbury’s, raised the issue of agencies not working together.

“My job is to deliver omni-channel customer experiences,” he explained. “Joining everything up is hard work, because businesses are full of silos. I need agencies that can work together, but agencies don’t want to. They’re fundamentally not set up to do so.

“I don’t want digital-first or mobile-first; I want customer-first. I want agencies that can identify the biggest problem facing the business, and I want to know what they are going to do to solve it.”