The uncomfortable truth about marketing

The uncomfortable truth about marketing

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Elen Lewis, the Marketing Society’s editor reports on our Wednesday session at Adweek Europe when we asked four senior marketers to tell the truth and nothing but the truth
It was all about the elephants. Or rather, it was all about the elephants in the room, at noon on Wednesday 20th April on the ITV stage at Adweek Europe. 
 
Herdmeister, Mark Earls deftly mediated the Marketing Society’s panel of provocateurs – marketers who were prepared to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.  They were Dominic Grounsell, Global Digital Marketing Director, Travelex, Patricia Corsi Vice President Foods & Beverages UK & Ireland, Unilever, Keith Moor Chief Marketing Officer, Santander and Mark Given Director of Communications, Sainsbury's.
 
Mark’s brief was clear: “This is about the uncomfortable truth. What stuff don’t we talk about as marketers that would make the world a better place?”
 
Unilever’s Patricia Corsi was first up.  As a Latin American who was proud to have reached stage two in the British school of sarcasm, she described her love/hate relationship with data. When she moved to Europe a decade ago she was ‘wowed’ by the fact we had all the data we could possibly need. The problem, she argued is marketing is not simply about logic and data. “I’m a big fan of data when it takes good ideas and makes them epic,” she said. “But it’s having an impact of a whole generation of marketers who believe they can’t take risky decisions without data.”
 
Santander’s Keith Moor spoke candidly about a new video his bank had launched on Facebook about personal savings allowance. His agency guaranteed 1.7 million placements on people’s timelines, the video was viewed 630,000 times and only five per cent watched it all the way through. The average viewing time was 22 seconds. “I was told by my agency that it was good,” he said. “We need to learn from direct marketing. It’s not the last 5-10 seconds that count, but the first five seconds – that’s all that really matters.”

Four uncomfortable truths
 
Patricia Corsi Vice President Foods & Beverages UK & Ireland, Unilever
We have become overly reliant on data. If we don’t inspire people to take risks we won’t learn. 
 
Dominic Grounsell Global Digital Marketing Director, Travelex
We are not attracting bright, young talent into marketing. We need engineers and physicists and they’re not interested in our industry. 
 
Keith Moor Chief Marketing Officer, Santander 
We know video is growing in importance but nobody is really watching branded content. We need to get back to direct marketing principles – it’s the first five seconds that matter.
 
Mark Given Director of Communications, Sainsbury's
We need our agencies to work together and collaborate. While you tell us you’ll play nicely, the reality is you don’t want to. 

Travelex’s Dominic Grounsell wanted to talk talent and how to bring the right people into marketing. We need a better balance of people – hard-skilled people from engineering and physics, he said. He outlined three problems behind the talent shortage:

  1. Brand awareness – we are not even on the radar of young people doing hard subjects
  2. Brand perception – marketing is broad and interesting but all we talk about is a TV. ad. I spend just five per cent of my time thinking about TV yet we insist on celebrating a Cannes Lion, it’s like celebrating the last mile of a marathon.
  3. Saliance – young talent don’t want to be in marketing but other departments. They don’t want to work for stuffy corporates but they want to work for themselves or for companies like Google, Uber or Apple.
Finally, Mark Givens from Sainsbury’s told the truth about agency relationships. “Joining everything up is really hard work, the business is full of silos,” he admitted. “We need you all to work together. While you tell us you’ll play nicely, the reality is, you don’t want to.” Mark urged agencies to consider: “What are the critical customer problems and what are you doing to solve them?”


Read more from Elen Lewis in our Clubhouse.

 

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Author: The Marketing Society
Posted: 08 May 2016
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