Are Marketers Still Stewards of the Brand?


I started working in the Advertising Business in the New Normal.  When I was a puppy and worked on my first account, McDonald’s, I was told that it was basically a privilege and to act and work accordingly. You were basically challenged to rise to the occasion.

The attitude was basically the same when I worked at JWT. To work at such a prestigious agency with so many smart people was a great achievement but also a great responsibility.

I was told basically that during my tenure of sitting in that chair and managing the account it was my responsibility not to screw it up and I grew to understand that over time. It was a great adventure in a way which opened up a whole world of experiences, challenges and learning. The bar was set very high and there were many people more than willing to sit in your chair.

The same attitude was prevalent on the client side. Some said it was an exclusive club. I never bought into the club part but it implied a high standard of conduct and not a free pass to just try and get by to keep your job.

I wonder if that is the way it is today in the New Normal. I hear about some clients at global companies conducting agency reviews by themselves with a selection committee of a dozen people who don’t even introduce themselves. I heard that the submitting agencies had an hour to present. Was that the stewardship that the brand deserved? I don’t think so. Has the recession trained both agencies and clients to do what is best to keep their jobs first and what is best for the brand second?

Are brand champions still around? The clients who would step out on a limb and try new things without collective decision making? Clients who trusted others to show them the course and not only make decisions on their experience meter. Clients who wanted to take the brand to new places and not just try to last as long as they could by just getting by.

We all know that the tenure of Marketers can be increasingly short these days and the pressure for results is high. Marketers are constantly challenged to show ROI.

The incidence of using a consultant according to 4A’s stats has actually declined except in the media space. The use of procurement officers to conduct agency searches has increased dramatically. Does somebody who may be buying concrete one day be the right person to help select an advertising agency the next day? I don’t think so. It is like having your parents select your bride. How did Marketers let that happen? Sure process and efficiency are important but what price can you place on the magic of advertising and its ability to change your brand and your career?

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24 thoughts on “Are Marketers Still Stewards of the Brand?

    • That, I respectfully submit, is the PR job. Marketing is more than communications. There are 3 other Ps, and communications is only a small part of the 4th P: Promotions. But aside from my counterculture ideas of licensing PR professionals, I also believe MarComm is accountable to the boundary spanning pervasive executive functions of Public Relations within a company. – Your mileage may vary.

  1. I think stewardship lasts as far as a quarterly or even monthly P&L. SHOCKING. I seen it. Maybe its micromanaging that sets such long-term goals of care to be achieved in _days_ and not years. Stewardship should increase the value of a brand not pump it up like an inflated resume. And who has the time when, as you say, one day the man buying concrete is the same deciding on a communications agency (Marcomm or PR are often considered the same by such men) the next day?

    When everyone is off raiding the firm and shareholders hold their breath like gamblers or like an apathetic audience waiting for the movie to start, while the stereotype is (rightly so perhaps) perpetuated by Capitalist protestors on TV, who REALLY gives a damn about the company?

    The guy that got fired after years of service? The guy that has his monitor panic-keyed to his LinkedIn or Facebook profile? The investor who knows less about the business he invests in than the procurement officer knows about brand stewardship?

    All the above.
    (I may tell you a story in a private message if I still feels hot after my coffee.)

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