Many successful entrepreneurs have professionalised their marketing operations and have scaled great heights. Creative agency partners and marketing support functions have a greater role to play in such success stories.
However, the facilitators have bogged down the creators. The beauty and creativity in the business is destroyed once the trust is broken between the marketers and their partners.
The birth of mistrust
Business cycles put enormous pressure on the marketers and in turn they pass it on to their partners, out sourced or otherwise. At times like this the partners short change the future of the brand for immediate, short term gains. Here starts the mistrust between the client and the agency.
The agency: Blames the client as illiterate, stingy, myopic
The client: Blames the agency as impractical and splurges clients’ money on wasteful resources
Thus things come to heat. Then the client calls for a pitch. Agencies parade claims and promise the moon to the clients. The client, many a time blinded by claims, falls for one more promise to be shattered in the near future.
Marketing partners Vs Communication partners
A classic Creative agencies claim is to be that of marketing partners and not just communication partners. This is compounded by clients who look for cheap marketing inputs from the creative agency’s pitch circus. Many dotcoms and retail chain initiatives are witness to such myopic and shallow thinking.
Elements of marketing are the foundation on which creative communication expressions are built not the other way round. Hence it’s foolish to rewrite marketing mix based on the creative expression. Many marketers and creative partners have shown ignorance as to not to separate the two before evaluating or presenting creative expressions.
It makes prudent business sense that marketing parameters are best left to the decision of the marketer. Creative partner’s role is limited to interpretation of marketing mix decisions and or adviser to marketers on marketing mix decisions.
With every passing year creative partners have been losing talent intent and respect to be a true marketing adviser to marketers.
Brand responsibility: Parenthood between Marketers and Creative partners
Brand owners (the client) and brand custodians (the creative agency partners) are like responsible parents. Brands are like children born out of wedlock and love between them. The Mother being (the client) Father (the creative agency). The mother has literally carried the brand in her womb. She is the single most contributors to the marketing foundation for the brand’s future success.
Secure Brand parenthood
With the brands birth it becomes the joint responsibility of the father (the agency), and the mother (the client) to groom the innocent child to grow stronger.
For the healthy growth of the brand, it is critical that parents be consistent in grooming the brand.
Great brands like Nike were nurtured and built by single agencies during their formative years.
Due to circumstances, we do have brands with single parents. Marketers have built brands with no or little support from creative partners. Selective outsourcing of suitable mother care is normal, for example packaging, research, etc.
But these are done as an exception not as a rule, and undertaken with suitable care and guidance of brand custodians. Often expert care or support is necessary for both the parents. However over exposure may affect brand health.
The benefit of working with entrepreneurial agencies is that they are consistent with the brand inputs. All inputs are under the close supervision and liking of the mother whether world likes it or not. Nothing is passed on to the kid unless scrutinized and accepted by both partners.
Larger agencies and marketer’s achieve this by developing brand codes which will be adhered to consistently. And every input on brand life cycle is well guided by the norms and brand development protocols.
In both above scenarios brand will not suffer a confused, insecure mother.
Insecure Brand Parenthood
Short lived client agency relationships and Multiple creative agencies may create a characterless child (Brand) of tomorrow. We may see the brand miss the wholesome care to nurture brands to its full glory.
Often the creative agencies come under business pressure to modify and cut short their approach even before the first rays of results were to appear. There are many incidences where the marketers or creative partners back out during the crucial brand initiative decisions.
Many resort to research as face saver tool than as a effective brand development tool. Also the time when client throws the mantra of a strong gut! Creative partners ask for research! (vice versa)
Whether research or gut feel, insecure parenting destroys a wonderful brand at birth itself!
However, this does not undermine the timely evaluation of how responsible the parents are and re-look at inputs to build the brands. Hence, timely creative agency pitches and brand sell outs. This will ensure that brands don’t suffer wrong parenting and will get timely inputs and support.
For the sake of debate there are brands that might have succeeded under wrong parenting. Here the brand success is nothing but accidental and not planned. However, it’s not a good idea to plan ‘accidents’!
(K Raghavendra is Assistant General Manager - Marketing Services ay Jyothy Laboratories Ltd.)