I worked on a pitch last Spring that I was really pleased with. I like pitching, it’s like Old School Planning but with the whole process set to fast-forward and this particular pitch prep went pretty much swimmingly with a talented team producing IMHO what was a very strong pitch.
The research was robust, the strategy was routed in insight and commercially viable, the core creative idea was insightful, differentiating and motivating and the creative executions ranged from safe to scary, with a nice two year plan to ease the client down the road to creative led effectiveness and integration of the Big Creative Idea right through the Customer Journey. The agency was a great fit with the client’s needs and the powerpoint presentation itself was the best I’ve ever seen from a regional agency after two creatives spent hours turning a load of bullet points into a compelling, engaging and visually impressive story.
But the agency didn’t win the pitch.
The feedback was that the client said they liked the research
they liked the strategy
they liked the creative
they liked the agency team
…it was just that they’d tried using ‘Strategy’ once before and it hadn’t worked for them so they’d decided to avoid it completely in future as an approach.
Yes, this particular client (discretion and an NDA prevent me from naming names but they’re a well-known brand with a nine figure turnover) had decided that following a previous bad experience any kind of future strategic-led approach to communications was not for them. As one of my twitter followers put it, that’s like saying you had a bad meal recently, so just to be on the safe side you’re never going to eat again.
I’ve seen what creative this client ended up going with as their new TV campaign went live recently. It’s not good. There isn’t a differentiator, compelling call to action or even mnemonic in there. It’s just another shouty TV ad in a me-too category.
Like I said in the title, I think clients get the creative they deserve.
real client quotes from the fab sharpsuits.net
Marks and Spencer announced towards the end of last week that they were extending their payment terms for almost 500 of their suppliers (75 of which are based in the UK) from 60 to 75 days. OR, they’ll pay up straight away in return for a “substantial discount”.
I can’t believe that there hasn’t been more fuss about this in the press. Asking your suppliers to effectively extend the free overdraft facility they already provide is taking the p**s, especially from a CSR point of view. If M&S don’t pay their suppliers on time, they in turn can’t pay their suppliers on time and eventually you create a worldwide and unsustainable lag between goods or services provided and payment received. And as for requiring a “substantial discount” in order to pay up quickly, don’t get me started.
Ever since I went freelance I’ve been hardcore about getting paid within 30 days – after all, that’s what the agencies pay their staff on and freelancers are not only providing skills that would otherwise be provided by a salaried member of staff, they have the same mortgages, supermarket shops and bills going out each month too. I’m lucky that the agencies I work with regularly (or at least my key contacts there) are decent about making sure I get paid more-or-less on time, but I’ve come across a few agencies who clearly would like to avoid paying me until 90 days – or in some cases just don’t have the funds in the bank to pay. To be fair, that’s often because their biggest client’s bill is itself well overdue for payment.
In my little world, agencies who don’t pay up within a reasonable time frame get blacklisted, but I’m lucky as planning resource is pretty thin on the ground up here so I can afford to be assertive. And handily, I have access to a lot of free legal advice. But to achieve this on a broader scale would take the entire marketing industry as a whole to put their foot down and demand decent terms – so clients would then have no option other than to pay up as there would be no alternative supplier that would accept longer terms.
Perhaps I’ll put that on the wishlist after ‘no unpaid pitches’ for the IPA to sort out…
I was debriefing some work on Shopper Missions recently and there was a certain amount of disbelief in the room regarding some approaches to parenting I found that tied into a key Occasion customers were shopping for.
I had to remind everyone present that the customers we were talking about were not necessarily the same sort of people as their friends, relatives and colleagues. Agencies and client marketing departments are currently choc-full of white middle class graduates in their late 20s and 30s. Their peer group therefore does not necessarily represent the core target audience for many brands.
Just because you’d never give your child fizzy pop or let them stay up late on a school night doesn’t mean that there’s not a chunk of the UK population who do. When you earn your income from marketing products and services, the likelihood is that your target audience will behave differently to you – and that you won’t necessarily agree with their choices.
I posted a few weeks ago about what I hoped were the first green shoots of recovery I’d spotted. And since then I’m pleased to report that the local firm who are fitting our new bathroom tell me their enquiries and orders have doubled over the past two months and they’ve had to take on extra staff, which sounds encouraging.
But I’ve picked up on another mini-trend that seems to reflect the fact that money is still very tight for lots of people – the qualitative research gatecrashers. I’ve had quite a bit of qual on recently and my mobile number ends up being listed on the research invitation as ‘if on the day for some reason you can’t attend please call….’. I’ve had 8am calls from women wanting to how “how I can get on the research” (face-to-face depth interviews pre-recruited to a very specific criteria) and focus group respondents turning up with their husband and sister in tow in the hope that I’ll let them into the group too so they can all collect their forty quid. I’ve had Mums swear blind that the recruiter said it was OK for them to bring their young children with them “they won’t be any trouble!” when it’s been made clear to them that they can only attend on their own and respondents throwing major tantrums because they’ve arrived far too late to attend and therefore won’t be paid. It’s been an interesting Summer!
I’ve found a brilliant example of nudge marketing – and a Planner (much less a Behavioural Insights team) hasn’t been near it.
The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust‘s mission is to help keep working horses and donkeys in the area healthy – and a healthy working animal can increase its owners income by up to 500%, so healthy donkeys mean healthier people too.
Young boys are traditionally the main carers of horses/donkeys for the family in Gambia, but without the knowledge of how to keep their animals healthy they can inadvertently cause pain and suffering. So GHDT started teaching in schools and subsequently launched Donkey Football.
Boys attend Donkey Ball Club twice a week, which as well as training them for Donkey Ball matches encourages them to build a relationship with their donkeys and take pride in their health and wellbeing, with lots of donkey care advice thrown in – after all you can’t play football if your ‘equipment’ is damaged. Prizes for winning games all focus around donkey health and safety with headcollars and hi-viz vests given out (loads of donkeys are injured in road accidents in Gambia each year).
GHDT also target older horse and donkey owners with their annual show (complete with Donkey Ball tournament) with classes based around rewarding good condition and turnout of horses and donkeys – and free health checks for all animals on the day. It’s apparently become quite a big event, with some owners setting off by foot several days beforehand in order to travel and then rest their animals before the big day.
GHDT are on the hunt for more hi-viz/reflective vests and tabards at the moment, so if you know of any looking for a good home (perhaps left over from a campaign or event?, logos etc. on them are fine), please get in touch with them via here and they’ll happily take them off your hands.
I’ve posted several times before about the fertile ground for Bad Ads that is horsey magazines. To be fair, equestrian clients are notorious for having big ideas and lots to say but small budgets, but I’ve found yet another tram-smash for your viewing pleasure.
In this case either the agency simply forgot to replace the placeholder text from the client brief with the proper copy (which is worrying enough), or their client was such hard work that they just left their ‘suggested’ copy in to avoid another battle:
I spoke at London Strategy Unit’s 1UP training course for junior and aspiring Planners earlier this year. LSU are running another 1UP, plus a new 2UP for more experienced Planners this Autumn so as an LSU training evangelist I thought I’d better spread the word.
1UP: The strategist as original thinker is about the practical skills that junior planning/strategy types need in their job and will use straight away: confidence to deliver presentations, ways to get inspiration for ideas, techniques to help manage client relationships plus the chance to have a crack at a real client brief and get feedback. Speakers look every bit as good as last time with a creative strategists, BRIT school teacher, technologist and Russell all speaking, as well as LSU staff and partners.
2UP: The strategist as salesman moves on from this and teaches the sales skills every plannery strategist should have under their belt to help them do work that in turn helps clients sell more.
Places for both events are IMHO fairly priced at £795 + vat for two full days with great speakers and practical exercises. Booking info is here.
Andreea from LSU also tells me that they are holding back a few places at 1UP for interns, students or job hunters at a special rate of £100. If you’d like one, email email@example.com with your name and contact details explaining why you qualify and they’ll pick out the most worthy.