Ian McCawley’s argument that McDonald’s is suffering from “risky promotions” relies for its support on analyses by “sales promotion experts”. Yet it seems that the analysis provided by one of them – Mark Ritson – is based on an all-too common misconception of how a professional agency can add value to a brand experience.
He suggests that a weakness of promotions is that they are handled in house and therefore failure cannot be blamed on an agency. Leaving aside the curious point that the lack of someone to blame for failure is a disadvantage, I am forced to assume that he means that the delivery of the promotion itself is in the hands of frontline McDonald’s staff and therefore cannot be influenced by a creative agency.
To accept this is to ignore the ability of an agency to deliver a complete and integrated solution beyond the consumer offer itself. This can include pre- and post-research, staff training incentives linked to the promotion, as well as relevant internal communications programmes.
Allowing an agency this level of involvement can add significantly to the success of the promotion and remove the potential failure in the first place.
He goes on to suggest that too many promotions can make people forget the brand’s values. Again, were a creative agency part of his thinking, he would recognise their ability to devise promotional activity that supports the brand actively. One only has to think of this year’s ISP Grand Prix winner, the Andrex Puppy offer, to see how a strong promotion can enhance and build on brand values.
Geoff Howe Independent