Tom Denford and David Indo from ID Comms: P&G enters the agency lions’ den

In this week’s #MediaSnack, Tom and David focus on the third and most recent speech by P&G marketing boss Marc Pritchard. This time out Marc addressed the leaders of the world’s agency community at the 4As ‘Transformation’ conference in Los Angeles. The 4A’s is the US trade association for agencies and this is its big agency conference.

His message to US media agencies was very clear: “We want you to innovate but right now job one is leading media transparency. We need to clean up – now.”

By choosing to deliver the third part of this media transparency action plan right ‘in the lion’s den’ of the agencies’ own conference platform, Marc Pritchard was making sure there was no room for misunderstanding.

As in his previous keynotes at IAB and ANA conferences, his language was plain, unambiguous and compelling. This was a powerful message not just because P&G is the world’s biggest advertiser but also because he was clearly channelling the collective frustrations of many of the world’s advertisers.

Tom and David argue that the power of his message was its beautiful simplicity. With the wisdom and clarity of someone who truly understands the challenges of marketing in the digital era, Marc was able to condense industry jargon into some clear, direct messages to the agency community. He laid out clear expectations of action he thinks they need to make.

The first was that the complexity of the media supply chain was not P&Gs problem to fix, it is the agencies’ problem. He didn’t want to know about it, he just wanted them to solve it so that marketers could be freed up to make smart decisions.

The second was that they needed to solve the transparency issue. Only then would his olive branch that agencies would be trusted much more and become true partners start to bear fruit.

David and Tom highlight the fact that nowhere in this presentation (or the previous two) did Marc actually talk about saving money or reducing costs, in fact he talked about rewarding agencies for the talent they bring to the table.

They argue that Pritchard’s three speeches this year have encouraged advertisers to take greater control of their media, to have a view of what it can do for their business.

Hopefully, the medium to long-term impact of Marc’s action plans and call to action, will be fewer brands who merely think media is a cost and think it’s a good idea to commoditise agency scope, fees and payment terms through blind e-auctions.

Those short-sighted brands looking to evaluate agencies largely on these commercial terms are missing the opportunity Marc is describing, to unlock a new level of trust, transparency and partnership with their media agencies, which actually focuses on growing brands and driving a business outcome, rather than a race to the bottom.

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