Like many companies, Colgate-Palmolive’s mobile marketing strategy isn’t where it should be, given consumers’ rapidly growing usage of
mobile platforms, says Jack Haber, C-P’s vice president, global advertising and digital.
It will take some time to get mobile “fully woven into the fabric” of the company’s marketing activities, he added, speaking at the GroupM What’s Next conference Wednesday. One obstacle was resistance to change both within the company and within the larger advertising and marketing community.
Haber likened the company’s attitude toward mobile today to skeptical attitudes that many inside the company held about the Internet as it was emerging and had not yet become a consumer utility. “We need to get past that,” he said. Research that demonstrates the medium’s return on investment would help internally, he said. C-P still spends roughly 80% of its advertising budget on TV, which he acknowledged was probably out of sync with the shifting media habits of consumers.
“We’re all behind,” he said. “The industry is not as focused as it should be, especially among the creative ranks” at advertising agencies that for the most part remain fixated on TV, he said. “People talk about integration, but it’s still TV first” at many ad shops. “We need to change that.”
“The consumers are setting the pace,” said Haber, and they have embraced mobile devices far faster than the industry anticipated. “We’re trying to catch up,” he said, noting that C-P has made developing and implementing a cohesive and integrated mobile strategy one of its top-10 global marketing priorities.
Mobile is critical in countries like the U.S. and the U.K., Haber said, because of rapidly escalating consumer usage rates. He agreed with others at the conference that marketers and agencies should begin looking at mobile as “the first screen in a lot of ways. It’s the first thing we touch in the morning and throughout the day.”
In some parts of many important overseas markets like China and India, mobile is not just the first screen, it’s the only screen. Given the personal nature of mobile devices, Haber added, “it’s the closest you can get to people as a marketer.”
That said, Haber added that marketers have to be sensitive to the personalized nature of mobile and ask themselves if their consumers “want ads on this screen” -- and if so, “how to interact with them. We have not figured it out yet.”