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Thursday
Mar262015

The 9 Most Common Lies Agencies Tell Clients During A Pitch

CMO Network 2/16/2015 @ 4:56PM 5,318 views

Actually, they are more like “white lies”, fibs, half-truths and embellishments.

During the pitch process, agencies need to sell themselves, which can result in overstating their capabilities. These statements are neither malicious nor thoughtless, but they do create unrealistic expectations of the winner after the pitch.

This is a list of promises that agencies commonly make that clients should be wary of:

1. “Our Creative Director will personally work on your business.” Don’t assume that because the creative director spends a lot of time with you during the pitch they’ll spend a lot of time on the account once it is won. In fact, that’s what they spend most of their time doing – working on pitches.

2. “Your account will be our agency’s No.1 priority.” They say it to all the clients.

3. “This is your team.” Sometimes, but not always. Some agencies practice what is known as the old “bait and switch” ploy. The best, most articulate agency people are presented as the pitch team during the process, only to disappear once the agency has been appointed, replaced by a lesser caliber of individuals.

4. “We can do everything for you.” Agencies will always say that they can do everything, but, in fact, they often times cannot. They will especially try to talk up digital. At the age of specialization, the likelihood that one agency can address all the client’s needs is a stretch. Agencies resort to outsourcing many capabilities, while pretending to be able to do it all.

5. “We (almost) never pitch.” Agencies like to pretend that they are so successful that they don’t chase new business, and implied in that statement is that your account is “special” and meaningful to them. However, most agencies chase every prospect indiscriminately and impulsively, often at the expense of diverted attention from existing clients, because they need the income.

6. “We have a unique process.” All agencies have pretty much the same process despite of what they say. They may call it by different names but that is simply window dressing. Their tools and approach is fairly similar. What really separates agencies is their culture. Some agencies are more collaborative, some are more disruptive and some are more courageous.

7. “We are more creative because we win a lot of awards.” Everybody wins awards. There are so many award shows that winning awards is as easy as ordering a corn beef sandwich in a deli. Awards matter up to a point, but the agency team matters more. A great team in a mediocre agency that does not win many awards is better than a mediocre team in a hot, award-winning agency.

8. “We play nice in the sandbox.” Most of the time the various agencies – digital, media, creative – don’t like each other and have no idea what each other is doing. There are some advertising shops that work well with clients’ partner agencies, but if given the choice, most would prefer to develop campaigns without input from others.

9. “Our case studies are amazingly successful.” Like in the fictitious Lake Wobegon in “A Prairie Home Companion” radio show, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average”, all case studies that an agency shares with the client are compelling and the results are great. In truth, only about 20% of case histories on average are successful. The client never sees the 80% that the agency doesn’t want them to see.

Agencies lose 10% of their income on average every year due to attrition. Some of this loss can be chalked up to clients leaving the agency, and some to reduced investment by roster clients. This pressure is compounded by the demands of the holding companies for high margins. That makes winning new business a matter of survival. Which sometimes leads to embellishing a little during the pitch.

Hopefully agencies meet client expectations, campaigns launch as promised, and they produce the desired results. However, in some cases they just do not live up to the claims they made during the pitch, and more often than not, this is because they made promises they could never really keep.

Thursday
Mar262015

The Best Agencies Of 2014

CMO Network 12/18/2014 @ 9:54AM 74,647 views

Maturing marketing channels are increasingly challenging agencies these days. The best of them are abandoning traditional, narrow definitions and adopting an integrated model that allows specialization while offering total marketing solutions. The agencies I have selected have a clear sense of how much is changing, including the new role of the consumer, the migration away from interruptive messages, and the technologies and platforms that make listening more important than talking. They embrace what’s coming, not what has been.

The most influential agencies of 2014 represent a diverse group of high performing and forward thinking firms that are reinventing their business model as technology facilitates a newly complex marketing ecosystem.

Arguably, the single most innovative agency in America: 360i.

Started as a search agency less than a decade ago, 360i evolved into a digitally centric agency model that effectively integrates earned, paid and owned media under one roof. It is known for its disciplined approach to fundamentals like strategy and its entrepreneurial culture. 360i’s breakthrough moment came at Super Bowl LVII in 2013 when the lights went out in the third quarter. Within a few moments 360i tweeted its “Dunk in the dark” ad from its specially set newsroom for client Oreo, and real-time marketing reached celebrity news cycle of sorts. This year, for another brand of the same client, Oscar Mayer, 360i captured the euphoric, multisensory experience of bacon with an app connected to an alarm clock that lets users wake up to the smell and sounds of crackling bacon. This effort was supported by video and a website and, to build buzz, selling a limited the number of the devices which took 360i 9 months to develop in their R&D lab.

The next big thing: Pereira & O’Dell and Barton F. Graf 9000.

Pereira & O’Dell is known for its integrated campaigns, effortlessly combining digital, social, and heart tugging brand storytelling. While influenced by digital advertising, Pereira & O’Dell has a more integrated, idea-first approach. That philosophy has been manifest in the wide array of work coming out of the shop. The agency has created tear-jerking, award-winning long-form ads for Skype, depicting its ability to connect people over great distance.

Barton F. Graf 9000 and its founder Gerry Graf are known for their signature style, creating wacky advertising that sets them apart in an often commoditized industry. Graf is responsible for some of the ad world’s most eccentric and funny commercials, from Mars bars to Fedex to Skittles. The shop works now with Kayak, GoDaddy, Ragú and Unilever, and its breakthrough moment was a clever video which went viral last year for an environmental group Climate Name Change, suggesting tongue-in-cheek to name hurricanes and other weather catastrophes after climate-change denying politicians.

Reinventing public relations: Edelman and Weber Shandwick.

Edelman, fiercely independent, its focus is on innovating its capabilities outside traditional public relations like branded entertainment, creative newsroom and clean technology. The firm added creative directors on a number of accounts and expanded its resources beyond its traditional offerings and made its largest non-PR investment yet with the acquisition of Stockholm-based creative shop Deportivo.

Weber Shandwick too is transforming itself with an aggressive dive into the crowded content space that catapults it beyond traditional PR. Last year, the shop created a publishing group to capitalize on content marketing demands from clients. This year it revamped its advocacy group Sawyer Miller into a full-service ad agency named Sawmill. It will be expanding well beyond the point that Sawyer Miller traditionally played in the advocacy world.

Media rising: MediaCom and Carat.

MediaCom develops and optimizes the use of content to drive high-performing engagements through its “Content + Connections” philosophy. It provides end-to-end creation, distribution and monitoring of all content and communication activities, from social media to SEO to branded content, while optimizing each individual channel and the connections between them. MediaCom is transforming its media agency model from being media-facing to consumer facing.

Carat too is redefining the role of a media agency in this new digital world. It understands how media can drive business value better than anyone else. Carat is moving beyond the provision of media savings and exploits the new era of media to deliver greater business value to its clients. With its proprietary survey tool, CCS, it provides an impressive level of consumer insight that helps support future-forward initiatives.

Mainstreaming multicultural: LatinWorks and Alma.

LatinWorks has long believed in taking multicultural to the mainstream, and their brand messaging reflects this. Their work, includes a range of clever multicultural campaigns for Lowe’s, Domino’s, Starburst, and is grounded in strong insights and sophistication, but the shop also has a flair for winning general market assignments, like it did a few years back when it ran a Super Bowl spot for Bud Light. Last year Jamba Juice named LatinWorks as their general market agency for a large campaign to reposition the brand.

Alma is one of the top award winners among multicultural agencies, including Cannes Lions, Effies, Clios, and D&AD, creating multi-lingual campaigns for clients like McDonald’s, State Farm, Clorox, and Tobacco Free Florida. Alma, which last year created a social media lab, recently formed a strategic partnership with Rokk3r Labs, an innovative platform for entrepreneurs to create and launch companies through proven methodology and co-building

Digital disruptors: ROKKAN and R/GA.

ROKKAN focuses its expertise on creating innovative campaigns with strong cross-platform appeal in e-commerce, loyalty programs, digital marketing, mobile and social media. ROKKAN’s core services include Visual Design, Technology, 3D and Motion Graphics, Game/App Development and Emerging Media. This creative shop was among the first to anticipate and develop solutions for the changing needs of clients in a socially connected world.

R/GA envisions a connected world made of functionally integrated companies that have products and services that tie together into a platform and then into an ecosystem — one building on the other, like Nike+Fuel. The new model is fused in order that the consumer would buy multiples rather than just one product or service. In another area of innovation, R/GA has created an accelerator program focused on startups that are creating connected devices and applications.

Setting the bar: Droga5, Wieden+Kennedy, 72andSunny.

Droga5 makes ads you can’t ignore: That something can be a hilarious piece of content, a fun videogame or a useful app, or it can be an invitation to support a worthwhile cause. This year it created strong work for Under Armour, Newcastle Brown Ale and Prudential. It also launched De-De, a separate business aimed at designing and developing tech products.

Wieden+Kennedy, arguably the most consistently inspired agency of the last 35 years, continues to do high-profile work for the likes of Nike, Procter & Gamble’s Old Spice, Chrysler and Coca-Cola. W+K’s unambiguous commitment to the mantra of creativity results in standout work. With only 8 international offices, W+K introduced the concept of a “mini network”, and effectively competes with traditional ad networks that have hundreds of offices.

72andSunny made waiting in line for an iPhone look uncool, suggested Jay Z pre-release his latest album on Samsung Galaxy phones, and drafted Kevin Spacey for an appearance on Call of Duty. Strategically sound, it continues its impressive mastery of the cultural conversation. 72andSunny is an agency that takes big swings, creating memorable ads that blend celebrities and brands in unexpected ways.

Of note, even as the communications industry is undergoing extensive consolidation, almost half of the agencies on this list, 6 out of 14, happen to be Independents and are not owned by any of the top-5 holding companies, WPP, Omnicom, Publicis, IPG or Dentsu.

Perhaps it’s an indication that creativity, not size or distribution, is what still matters most in advertising and communications.

 

Thursday
Mar262015

11 Marketing Trends To Watch For 2015

Forbes CMO Network 11/09/2014 @ 9:22PM 151,231 views

 

The fundamentals of marketing are always going to be the same, but with the landscape changing at the speed of technology, what matters most now is how one activates the fundamentals. Smart marketers know that they need to get ahead of the trends and anticipate the next big things, or else be devoured by their competitors. Here is what I believe could be some of the most interesting developments next year:

Transparency will become the most important tool of marketing. Consumers are going to continue to exert power and influence. The idea of radical transparency is something that few brands are taking advantage of now, and most brands fight it. Next year the best brands won’t be those with the best stories, or sort of made up fictional stories, but those that will give an accurate and real time picture of what they are doing in the interest of the consumer, at any given time.

CMOs will become Chief Simplifier Officers. Most companies create complexity, especially even as the landscape itself is turning more complex. They’ve arranged themselves in endless new vertical silos, by geography, product, or function that hamper them when it comes to working more closely and with the free flow of ideas. To optimize consumer and customer engagements, CMOs will begin to put silo busting on top of their agenda and begin to think holistically about the company’s overall value proposition, integrating messages and insights across business units, geographies, and functional groups.

We will witness the emergence of the marketing technologists. Too many companies think in terms of digital marketing. Instead, they should be thinking in terms of marketing in a digital world. The best marketer in a digital world would be the marketing technologists, people with heavy digital DNA and technology acumen. They will be integrated seamlessly with the marketing groups and will play an important role in how marketing strategies are developed and applied.

The winners will be adept at agility marketing. Social media produced a different, more elusive consumer with short-term thinking. Marketers are now chasing their daily meanderings in “likes”, “shares”, “tweets”, click-through rates, and ever more immediate but pointless metrics. The best marketers will have ever more consumer data, capable of faster adaption, shorter lead times, and always-on, real-time marketing. Instead of the next month or next quarter the focal point for the winners becomes the next hour.

Media agencies will step up and lead. Media agencies have been built to give strictly narrow media recommendations. But today creativity is the currency of an effective media placement. Media agencies will be moving from being media-facing to consumer facing. Uniquely positioned at the intersection of technology and the consumer, they will become their clients’ key strategic partner, even more so than creative agencies, as big data and technology make “Math Men” the most important asset of marketers.

Hispanic agencies will go mainstream. Hispanics are 17% of the U.S. population, and are 56% of total U.S. population growth since the last decade. U.S. Hispanic purchasing power exceeds $1 trillion and is expected to grow by 2017 80% faster than non-Hispanic. Marketers will finally pay attention next year and stop marginalizing Hispanic ad agencies. Those agencies are capable of engaging consumers well beyond this demographic. Hispanic agencies will reach the mainstream in 2015.

Marketing will shift from globalization to personalization. The world is more connected because of technology these days, but marketing is becoming more regionalized, and more localized, even more individualized, as consumers resist homogenization. Personalization is not a trend. It is a marketing tsunami, here to stay, which will transform how we think about and how we manage global brands. Companies will decentralizing their structure and increase regional and local influence.

Procurement will become more powerful. Companies will continue to maintain a cautious financial stance, and marketing procurement will continue to carry a lot of clout, driving for greater accountability and transparency. Procurement will partner more closely with the CMO, CIO, CTO and CFO to remove internal roadblock and it will become more focused on agency operations and improving efficiencies there, not just fee negotiations.

There will be a growing focus on Internal Communications. Companies will be focused on internal communications as a marketing asset. They will look at it as a key challenge and opportunity to create brand ambassadors and make sure that employees and vendors understand and live “the brand,” as well as the vision and strategy of the company.

Holding companies will start divesting assets. The legacy agencies, those that still adhere to the obsolete TV model, having become mature businesses. The ad giants have been frantically gobbling up digital agencies, but the labor intensive digital model is less lucrative than the TV-focused business model. With growing pressure on their bottom line and with fewer opportunities to grow via M&A activity there will be pressure to divest non-essential assets.

The economics of marketing in a digital world will challenge marketers. Because smart content creation should be native to the digital channel that reaches the audience, the single biggest challenge that marketers will need to solve is how to scale content in an economic way.