Advertising to justify itself

We were surprised by the suggestion that it is peculiar that advertising should be called upon to justify itself (A Measure of Strength, MW November 1).

It is our experience that no business is happy to spend money on activities which can’t be justified. And to provide a level playing field, the basis of justification of a range of projects from different departments all competing against each other for funds is usually a financial one.

It is our experience that other sorts of investment – such as IT – are required to make a clear case for funds and are faced with similar sorts of uncertainty. Essentially, the problem is predicting and measuring the effect of an unfamiliar technology (which each new creative execution is) in a complex environment.

John Williamson is correct to say that measures such as awareness and the performance against the brief are essentially process measures. They do not tell us about results, only that some of the steps in a linear model of the way advertising works had been achieved.

They do not, in effect, tell us much about the changes to the complex environment and do not take account of any long-term effects of advertising.

New terms of engagement, such as risk/reward contracts, new sets of performance measurement (such as the use of balanced scorecards) and increased stringency in capital budgeting regimes have created an imperative to develop better ways of quantifying benefits from other forms of investment. Pressures on clients’ marketing budgets are creating the same set of imperatives for advertising.

However, unless we can earn the right to these budgets through our accountable management of them, we will see these funds diverted to other areas which are better able to demonstrate measurable returns.

Helena Rubinstein

Managing director

Leo Burnett Brand Consultancy

London SW3

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