Monday 17 June 2019

Warning 'business as usual not feasible' as clients take control

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Workshop: OMD’s Tim Griffiths with marketing mentor Mike Smallwood at the IAPI’s ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ agency event. Photo: Aidan Oliver
Workshop: OMD’s Tim Griffiths with marketing mentor Mike Smallwood at the IAPI’s ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ agency event. Photo: Aidan Oliver

Michael Cullen

Shifts in the marketing media landscape more seismic than ever before mean adland's role as the go-to source for strategic advice and creative ideas has seen an unprecedented challenge, British marketing mentor Mike Smallwood told agency bosses attending a workshop in Dublin.

Smallwood told the workshop - entitled 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised' - that 'business as usual' is no longer feasible. Adland must review its business proposition and how best to communicate it.

With the switch from analogue to digital, the rise of the empowered consumer and social media platforms, the influx of tech entrants and management consultants, marketing is unrecognisable to what it was 20 years ago.

Combined with these external pressures, adland is seeing clients take control of projects in-house in ways not previously encountered. As part of the workshop, hosted by the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (IAPI), Smallwood referred to the management tool devised by Harvard Business School's Professor Michael Porter.

Porter's 'Five Forces' cover internal rivalries, supplier power, buyer power, threats of substitutes and threats posed by new entrants. To make his point, Smallwood split the agencies into five groups. Each group was tasked with reviewing the challenges facing adland based on Porter's five forces. After some debate, an evaluation of the challenge was agreed.

On completing the first session, the five groups were tasked with a 'bottom up' review of the challenges from the perspective of hypothetical agencies.

First off was an international network agency grappling with traditional status in a changing marketplace.

The second scenario revolved around a tech startup as the client base sought answers beyond geographic and channel boundaries.

The third scenario was a successful media investment management network which, after a sustained period of growth, was finding client and staff recruitment a problem as new rivals cannibalised the business.

The fourth scenario saw a founder-managed experiential agency allowing the business develop new expertise, while handing control to management.

The fifth group was given a creative hot shop which, after five years, reviewed how to maintain growth, while allowing payback for the founder and keeping senior management on board.

Each group was tasked with reviewing the challenge their agency faced and presented their analysis and recommendations. Given the positive feedback, IAPI hopes to repeat the workshop later this year.


  • Staying with IAPI events, there's a chance for agencies to learn what it takes to win a Lion award at Cannes when Grey Europe's CEO Eduardo Maruri and the Cannes Lions festival president Phil Thomas come to Dublin tomorrow. During Maruri's time heading Grey Latin America, his agency repeatedly put Ecuador on the map by winning 30 Lions in five years. IAPI CEO Charley Stoney says what Thomas doesn't know about winning gongs isn't worth knowing.
  • Marks & Spencer plans to raise €100,000 for Pieta House this year. The M&S money will be used in a mental health programme for 3,500 second-year secondary students in 30 extra schools around the country. M&S has been trading in Ireland for the past 40 years. Founded by Presidential candidate Joan Freeman in 2006, Pieta House supports people in suicidal crisis, self-harm or are bereaved by suicide.
  • Paula Murphy is to leave Vodafone where she was in charge of brand operations and sponsorship. She joined the mobile operator from INM in 2010. She also worked with Kerry Foods, Superquinn and Johnson & Johnson. She currently chairs the Marketing Institute. Murphy's departure follows Vodafone's former head of marketing Anne Mulcahy's move to Bank of Ireland as group brand director.
  • And finally ... airport operator DAA has put its marketing services out to pitch with calls for creative advertising, digital and media proposals from agencies. Rothco, Core and CKSK - the agency that has just gone into liquidation - have worked for DAA.

Michael Cullen is editor of;

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