Marketing spend is part of the solution

Now is not the time for marketers to lose their confidence. If a marketing director is certain that his or her new campaign is going to improve the top line by communicating their brand’s message to the target audience within the allocated budget, then that should be enough. The marketer shouldn’t hesitate.

The reason for my concern? It seems the UK is starting to feel the early ripples of a trend that has been building for some months in the US. Amid a ferocious recession and against the backdrop of the US Government bailing out the financial and the automotive industries, brands are coming under pressure from consumers to kill their spend on marketing. The sight of what must seem to hard-hit families like lavish sums of cash spent on sponsorship, corporate hospitality and straight advertising, is being frowned upon by offended masses.

Meanwhile, US car dealerships are begging manufacturers to start advertising again, believing that marketing is the best chance they have of reinvigorating the economy. Frustrated bank executives are being pressed to justify spending sports sponsorship money that they know delivers unbeatable returns. And all the while they’re being watched by a new administration eager not to see its record levels of popularity diminish.

Here in the UK, there are voices calling for an independent body to look at the marketing activities of those bodies that have received government help. Fair enough? Well, maybe. The public’s anger at bankers won’t subside until it sees the banks acting in its interests rather than their own. But having sore taxpayers stand over the government-supported banks like Victorian school-teachers ready to crack a ruler down on the desk anytime anyone steps out of line is not helpful. Bonuses and remuneration certainly need to be looked at, but marketing spend is part of the solution, not the problem.

Recently a Marketing Week journalist was told by one of the UK’s biggest advertisers, off the record, that it was launching a new campaign but that it didn’t want anything written about it because the multinational felt it prudent to slip all new campaigns under the radar without talking about them too much. In other words, the company understands that it needs to continue marketing; it recognises that marketing will encourage spending, shift volumes and grow revenues, but it doesn’t want to be seen to be advertising.

For once, it might be worth business standing up to one of its own universal truths. Perhaps the customer isn’t always right after all. But how do you convince them and your board that marketing spend is “good spend”? Our Measuring Marketing Effectiveness conference on April 27 and 28 will help you demonstrate your marketing activity’s performance and determine the metrics that enable you to place marketing as a key driver of growth. More than 20 international experts from the likes of Ford, Yahoo!, Time Warner and Diageo will share their strategies on how to measure and maximise marketing effectiveness. Visit the website at to register.

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