Home / Ad Tech / Pepsico chief Jakeman lashes advertising – and then produces a few daft ideas of his own

Pepsico chief Jakeman lashes advertising – and then produces a few daft ideas of his own

Here’s a reprint of an article in Ad Age (hope they don’t mind). It’s about two addresses to the Association of National Advertisers conference this week in Orlando.

First up we have PepsiCo executive Brad Jakeman, who seems to have been in the business a long time. When did you last see a good Pepsi ad?

Then we have Harley-Davidson CMO Mark-Hans Richer who, to be fair, isn’t as daft as Jakeman.

Anyway, make of this what you will.

Ad agency models are breaking. Pre-roll ads are useless. Measurement models are outdated. The ad industry lacks diversity. And the phrase digital marketing should be dumped.

Those statements were among the declarations made Wednesday by PepsiCo exec Brad Jakeman in a fiery, truth-telling presentation at the Association of National Advertising’s annual “Masters of Marketing” conference in Orlando, Fla.

Mr. Jakeman — who is president of PepsiCo’s global beverage group — went so far as to suggest that even the phrase “advertising” should go by the wayside. He did so before 2,700 marketing and agency professionals at an event put on by an association that has the word advertising in its name. “Can we stop using the term advertising, which is based on this model of polluting [content],” he said.

“My particular peeve is pre-roll. I hate it,” he added. “What is even worse is that I know the people who are making it know that I’m going to hate it. Why do I know that? Because they tell me how long I am going to have to endure it — 30 seconds, 20 seconds, 15 seconds. You only have to watch this crap for another 10 seconds and then you are going to get to the content that you really wanted to see. That is a model of polluting content that is not sustainable.”

But Mr. Jakeman, whose talk was called “Designing for Disruption,” saved his toughest words for ad agencies. “The agency model that I grew up with largely has not changed today,” he said, noting that he has been in the ad industry for 25 years. “Yet agency CEOs are sitting there watching retainers disappear … they are looking at clients being way more promiscuous with their agencies than they ever have.”

Continuing the rant, he said that the “global alignment agency is a dinosaur concept” and he questioned the level of innovation. “I am really worried that this model is not going to bend — it’s going to break if we don’t really think about how to innovate,” he said.

Mr. Jakeman also ripped the industry’s lack of diversity. “I am sick and tired as a client of sitting in agency meetings with a whole bunch of white straight males talking to me about how we are going to sell our brands that are bought 85% by women,” he said. “Innovation and disruption does not come from homogeneous groups of people.”

Indeed, agencies — or at least the agency of record concept — had a tough day in the opening session of the ANA event, which ends Saturday and is being held at the sprawling Orlando World Center Marriott.

Harley-Davidson Chief Marketing Officer Mark-Hans Richer — who delivered a late morning presentation — responded to a question about agencies by pointing out that the motorcycle marketer works with a lot of shops and takes a “boutique” approach. “We have not had a lead agency in about five years,” he said. “Clients must take more responsibility for creativity. It’s not the kind of thing that you should offshore.”

Disruption has been an early theme at the conference. Marketers presenting on the stage so far appear to be taking less time showcasing big campaigns and TV ads, as in years past, and more time talking about how they need to rethink their organizations and approaches from the ground up.

Mr. Richer — whose presentation was called “Fake Fight: Millennials vs. Boomers” — sought to dispel the popular notion that growth comes solely from marketing to young adults. “Youth does not own cool. Youth does not own growth. Youth does not own innovation or disruption.” he said. “Old people are a growth market, too.”

Mr. Jakeman’s presentation was almost completely devoid of self-promotional Pepsi marketing, with the exception of the blue Pepsi can he carried in his right hand. And while he questioned agency models, he was also critical of marketing organizations for not changing with the times.

He said he has been to many marketing conferences and has seen some really creative things, which he said was “awesome.” But he “hasn’t seen our industry really push for incredibly disruptive things,” he added. “We are still talking about the 30-second TV spot. Seriously?”

He also criticized the industry for outdated measurement systems. “We still talk about share of voice,” which, he said, is a television metric.

And he pointed out that big consumer packaged good companies still measure marketing spending as a percentage of net revenue. “That assumes that paid media is the only way to build brands,” he said. But that is wrong because content generated by others on a brand’s behalf, for instance, “doesn’t cost us a cent,” he added.

Mr. Jakeman called digital marketing the “most ridiculous term I’ve ever heard.” He added: “There is no such thing as digital marketing. There is marketing — most of which happens to be digital.” He urged marketers to create digital cultures, not digital departments. “We ‘ghettoize’ digital as though it’s the life raft tethered to the big ocean liner. And we have to move on from that.”

Mr. Jakeman said he struggled to come up with any examples of “disruptive” changes in the “world of commercial brands.”

0000jennerSo he turned to the example set by Caitlyn Jenner, praising the way she “managed her transition … figuratively and literally as a brand.” The process — from the Diane Sawyer interview to the Vanity Fair cover — was thought-provoking, authentic and profound, he said. “This was something that the world was talking about, and the world has continued to talk about.”

Then he posed a question to his fellow marketers: “Have we done anything with our brands that is in any way as remarkable as the way Caitlyn Jenner, and that phenomenon, has been managed?”

I’ve never come across such rubbish. How on earth can agencies and marketers learn anything from Caitlyn Jenner? Change sex?

And this daft ‘disruption’ idea should be laid to rest. I think it was invented by Jacques Seguela to try to make RSCG sound different.

But everybody can’t disrupt things. You’d end up with a Mao-style permanent revolution. How does Pepsico plan to do it? Take the sugar out of its drinks and the salt out of its snacks?

Back to the drawing board Brad.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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