As Clive Sirkin, head of global marketing for Kimberly-Clark, put it -- referring to the image of two rams locking horns that the ANA used as a graphic -- "We are not rams. That sort of relationship is destructive."
Sirkin and others who spoke at the event said creativity must be applied creatively. "You have to wrestle to the ground what is your shared purpose," he said. "There must be a clear, articulate point of view from the client and the agency and both must be able to deliver on that. Agencies say 'our goal is creativity,' and in our view creativity is only valuable if it drives business. We think that's a fundamental principle. Creativity doesn't mean a department or execution, but collective creativity on both sides of the equation."
And he says client and agency relationships are too much about traditional advertising as a solution, which is a problem because creating traditional brand advertising with long-term objectives as goals creates conflict between marketers and agencies and between sales and marketing. "Traditional brand advertising is dead because, fundamentally, brand advertising is designed to illuminate brand positioning, so it's focused on building equity over the long haul," he says.
"So the connection to P/L is long-term. As a result, internally at the client side you get into conflict between sales and marketing: Sales looks at marketing and says: 'You are a bunch of head scratchers.' Marketers look at sales, saying: 'You are whores mortgaging our business.'" Our point of view is that in place of brand advertising we have commercial programs designed to build equity over a long haul and sales in the short haul."
Both Sirkin and Chuck Porter, chairman of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, agree that agencies should think beyond creating ads and must become product experts. "You get into a deeper conversation with agency partners about how do you do creative that addresses consumer behavior," says Sirkin. "When you get into that discussion, you have two ingredients: you have a shared purpose."
Porter, who is now chairman of the board of directors of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, says smart clients and agencies will think in terms of deploying capital versus doing ads. "I'm talking about a more upstream relationship of agency with client," he says, using CP+B client Domino's as an example. He says that Domino's -- which had focused on speed of delivery -- relaunched its pizza with a new recipe, resulting in a 14.3% sales spike. The agency also helped develop chicken fries for Burger King with the idea that people need something they can realistically eat while driving.
"You have to get close to the product because, generally speaking, the product is the brand. If you have a smart agency, getting them involved with product is what you have to do." Another example was Goodby, Silverstein & Partners' idea to nix traditional ads for a carrying case for iPad with a built-in pocket for the Sprint or 3G, 4G override, with the implication that people want to piggyback iPad Internet access on Sprint, not AT&T.