P&G's Agency Question: What Next, Now We Don't Need All This Stuff?

I would be happy to predict right now that when we come to look back on 2017 it will be not just the year of transparency and brand image woes, but perhaps also the year when advertisers woke up and flexed their muscles.

This morning's coverage in Marketing Week of P&G's new strategy sums it all up. Jon Moeller, CFO at P&G, referenced Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard's rallying comments that the advertising world is just far too "murky" not to be challenged by brands seeking transparency.

It was interesting to see the CFO's monetary take on marketing and advertising. A massive $2bn is coming off its annual marketing and advertising bill. The key is to build campaigns that last an entire year, such as Always' "Like A Girl." it's basically a case of sweating assets and building tag lines that aren't dropped with each campaign, but given room to keep on building over a year or longer.

So producing less "stuff" and making it last longer is one approach. That will have an impact on agencies, but perhaps the bigger influence will be a commitment to drive out media inefficiencies and fees. Yes, folks, transparency is once again front and centre. In fact, it was here where Marketing Week points out that Moeller cited and repeated Pritchard's famous call to give clarity around media in which too many people are involved and clear sight of what was achieved and who was paid what.

It brings to mind the 'integrated' word I think we're all seeing a lot more of this year, and last year, come to think of it. Advertisers are seeking to work with fewer agencies and smaller teams. A marketing director at a global drinks company quipped to me the other day about he, and others like him, are faced with currency fluctuations prompting a hard fight to prevent putting prices up by a matter of pence. In fact, Moeller makes the same point for P&G.

Then, our soft drinks guru point out, a huge team comes to visit to talk about a campaign -- and not only is the travel bill massive, but so are the billable hours. Do the trip in reverse and marketers can be left wondering whether they need such huge teams in swanky offices in London's prime property hot spots. 

I've had exactly the same conversation with several senior marketers. It's not just agency bashing, let's face it -- there's enough of that going on anyway. It's more a will to reshape the way brands and agencies work together that is more conducive for the budget holder rather than the spender. 

It's a very simple premise, and many agencies are doing their best to be flexible. Teams are being slimmed down, team members are being "in-housed" and ad tech is being deployed to help prove viewability and allay brand image fears. Perhaps most importantly, on the financial side, many agencies are now working to a single P&L so one part of a holding company doesn't try to win business from another or suggest unnecessary work to inflate their slice of the action because the account is all considered one single profit-and-loss account where success or failure is jointly shared.

So the work is already underway, and I would hazard a guess that we'll get a better idea where we're headed by the end of the year when the big advertisers have put talk on transparency into action and the CFO, as here with P&G, is talking tough about costs and efficiencies. 

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