Own Up To Your Marketing, Forecast Or Programming Mistakes, Then Take Deep Bow
In Japan, Toyota's chairman recently took a bow of contrition for the growing problems of his company's cars.
Maybe media executives should do the same.
High on everyone's apology list would be some executives at NBC -- not just for the Conan O'Brien/Jay Leno fiasco, but for other programs that teased greatness and wound up being less than super. (Hello, "Heroes.")
Now a major network research executive says some big-name forecasters should also apologize -- or at least rethink their estimates.
In a somewhat heated emotional exchange at an Association of National Advertisers meeting, CBS's chief research officer David Poltrack called a recent Forrester Research estimate of marketers' intended share of TV advertising dollars "bullshit."
Frank-speaking corporate executives are always appreciated. Better still are the ones who apologize. Jeff Zucker, president/CEO of NBC Universal took the blame for the O'Brien/Leno debacle, though somewhat belatedly. Still, he did express regret - but there was no bow at the end.
Poltrack wondered how Forrester could predict that two years ago TV marketers were going to spend 58% of their media dollars on TV, and now, for 2010, only 41%. He was scratching his head because share of TV budgets has actually climbed - although just by a couple of percentage points -- during that time.
"How do you reconcile these research findings?" asked Poltrack at the meeting. "[The] thing [that] particularly annoys me is your press release, which talks about that 58% going to 41%. That is such a bullshit number."
Poltrack then said that if you assume overall advertising dollars during the recession declined 10%, this gives you some unrealistic TV data. Concerning Forrester's estimates, he said, "if that were a real number, TV advertising spending would have had to gone down 36%! Everyone knows that didn't happen."
How then could Forrester -- in good faith -- put out such research?
The somewhat shocked Forrester executive didn't apologize, only pointing out that the company's conclusions came from respondents' responses. He did add, "It could be a sampling error."
For years TV marketers proclaimed they would spend less on TV if high pricing didn't fall -especially just before the upfront selling periods. But they bought heavy TV schedules anyway.
This past upfront season, those marketers actually kept their promise to spend less - a trend that seemed to be somewhat short-lived, since some money has come back in the scatter markets at double-digit percentage higher prices.
Politicians' work is similar to that of media and marketing executives: promise one thing, do another. But we kind of forget their past proclamations.
So what's the purpose of this exercise? Better to have a study comparing what marketers say they are going to do, against what is actually done.
At the end of the day, media executives shouldn't worry about being perfectly repentant. In Japan, people have been complaining the Toyota chief executive didn't bow deeply enough.