Coca-Cola and BMW on reinventing marketing

Yesterday’s panel moderated by Stuart Elliott was particularly good.

If there is one thing to take away from that panel, if there is one priceless thing, it is the need for Client to take control of their branding and for them to orchestrate of all the agencies themselves.  That means the client needs to have an internal structure and resources.  They need to reinvent marketing.  They need to develop models of marketing unlike anything that ever existed before.

And it means that each agency must play well with the others.  They must collaborate and cooperate and be transparent.

As the communications landscape becomes more complex and new technologies mix up the world faster than anyone can strategically comprehend. No single agency can possibly serve the needs of an advertiser. They rely on 5,6 or 7 different agencies, buying a la carte. The CMO needs to know many disciplines since they now have to integrate the various silos.

Pio Schunkur, SVP of Integrated Marketing at Coca-Cola, made the following observations.  These are almost all direct quotes:

“Marketing today is non-linear.  How do we really begin to understand that and to structure around it?”  Clients have to knit it together themselves.

“No one agency can do it all for us.  So we have to create an infrastructure in-house, a center of expertise in-house to create and manage the expression of our brand.  We are not replacing agencies… We use agencies a la carte”

“The structure of the marketing group impacts the strategy.”

In response to a question from Stuart Elliott about how Coca-Cola deals with so many different processes from so many different agencies, Pio responded, “The agencies need to be controlled from our side.”

“Every good brand is about story telling.  The difference is that we are now telling the story in different places.”

The group responsible for began several years ago and one of their major challenges was to push the agencies to collaborate.

Patrick McKenna of BMW had many similar observations.

[Between CRM, PR, advertising, mobile] we have to work with 5 to 6 different agencies.  We want the agencies to work together and to integrate.  All parties need to work together.”

“Each car launch is a cross-collaborative process.  The agency partners put the ideas together.”  The agencies are expected to work together to develop and vet ideas before presenting to BMW.

“Sometimes the role of the client is to be the referee.  Clients have to referee between two agencies to make sure that a great idea lives on.”  So there are times when BMW has to force the issue but that is not often.”

From the media side, we heard Greg Coleman of The Huffington Post observe the way agencies are blurring their roles and trying to stay in the game. “We are seeing PR agencies getting into the branding area.  We need clients to be the referee.”

Of course Elliott’s sense of humor and skepticism is never far below the surface.  When McKenna said that advertising is storytelling, Stuart Elliott responded, “Fairy tales.”

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