Agency-client dynamics that form Team One

Building a 'Team One' involves clear and focused briefs, collaborations and integration, clear rules of engagement, governance, escalation and conflict resolution, says Deepika Warrier, VP, PepsiCo

e4m by Saloni Dutta
Published: Jun 2, 2014 7:49 AM  | 5 min read
Agency-client dynamics that form Team One

Describing the traditional client and agency relationship (where the client is always at fault), with the help of a Dilbert cartoon, Deepika Warrier, VP, Pepsico, talked about the concept of building a ‘Team One’. “Having said that it is the client’s fault, even if we are sucky clients, it makes good business sense to show a little bit of empathy and active listening, when you are with a client. And let us not talk about as clients, lets call us brand colleagues,” she said to the agencies.

Warrier enlisted the markerter’s challenge in today’s day in detail.

• Mega trends,  though  being in different sectors, are pretty much similar.
• The continued re-balancing of the economic world. India’s growth slowing down to 9 percent and then to 7.5 per cent and further to 4.5 per cent and we know ‘Achhe Din Aayenge,’ but then the bad days have killed profitability and eaten half the profits.
• The all-pervasive web and the new shopper consumer. The power has shifted and is not with the client or the agency, but in the hands of the consumer.
• Paying for past fiscal irresponsibility.
• Scarcity and uncertainty in global resources. The prices of lemon juice in Argentina, the prices of Potato in India, price of orange juice in US, impact our profitability in India. We are living in a world of scarcity.
• Accelerated technology disruptions.
• Multiple activists diasporas.
• The talent conundrum. There is a talent conundrum with young people who are hungry to move.

“It is not about creating great campaigns, it is not just about great ideas that consumers want to spend time with, at a time of scarcity and growth slowing down. It is actually a marketer’s job and all of us in this room are marketers and it is not about brand people or agency people, we are all marketers,” stated Warrier. “A marketer’s challenge is to architect choice. We have got to manage the triangle between household dynamics with some people really juggling with meagre savings and disposable incomes; then there is a shopper, talking from  a CPG point of view, the shopper completely changes your mind, the path of purchase and finally the whole retailer context, so you may have done the best advertising to create awareness, you may have influenced the point of purchase but if the retailer is not stocking you or stocking your competitor more because the discounts are better or the relationship is better there, there goes your chance of sale,” she further added.

Giving an example on real time marketing and how can it impact a brand’s image, Warrier explained, “ Mindshare and JWT are helping us craft a really wonderful campaign for Tropicana which would be out soon, but last week a consumer discovered a tetra pack which had a growth coming out of it, and she posted it on her Facebook page, within 12 hours there were 9000 shares and which meant two million views. So, the campaign that we are working on with JWT and Mindshare, which is going to go to 40 million people, was affected.” We are living in a real time world and it is not about great ideas and great campaigns, it is about partnerships to solve real time issues on brands.

What are we trying to do here is balance art, and unleash art to create unpredictable, constantly engaging, challenging, different marketing for consumers and then we have to leverage science to deliver predictable results.

Therefore the power balance between marketers and agencies has completely changed. “Success is a two way street and to succeed in those conditions of very fragmented, dynamic and uncertain world that we are living in, real time consumer, reputation management, consumer management, we cannot do it without each other. We need to become ‘One Team’ and we must each live by commitment,” Warrier emphasised. She laid down some covenants, certain rules of engagement for Team One –

• Ensure alignment to business and marketing strategies by all relevant stakeholders before Team One is briefed.
• The briefs should be clear with focussed objectives, insights, message requirements, KPIs/ success metrics, deliverables and budget.
• Collaboration and integration. Build plans and timetables to allow for upstream collaboration and impact.
• Always ‘integrated’. It should not be ‘advertising agency led’ but all key capabilities are consistently and appropriately involved throughout.
• Establish clear rules of engagement, governance, escalation and conflict resolution.

Quoting the following words on being courageous, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”, Warrier emphasized on the importance of an honest discussion between agencies and marketers. The relationships that work best are when the partners are courageous to point out a faulty idea or product launch.
We need to realise that conflict is going to be a part of it and therefore agree and set up process and use humour as much as we can.

Warrier added, “The point that I want to make is that there needs to be a big front tool, a power balance between the client and the agency or call it a partnership, or a relationship, which sounds like two people on the sides of a table, we need to come together as one and I think it is a relationship that is an equal relationship, a wide diverse relationship with multiple capabilities built into it, with clear rules for governance, and as we work together we need to watch out for some of these things. There will be conflict, we need to figure how to courageously resolve the conflict, and move forward.”

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