The Secret Marketer

Another week, another spreadsheet. Like our Chancellor Alistair Darling, my last week has been entirely dominated by the budget and I suspect that I am not alone in spending more time with Excel than Powerpoint presentations.

For many in our industry, commercial awareness traditionally equated to recalling which ads they saw on TV last night, so perhaps the recession will trigger a new-found interest in the numbers for some marketers in our ranks.

One of my brands is manufactured in the euro-zone, which has destroyed margins and virtually wiped out the entire marketing budget.

Indeed, I have never known the language of the marketing department to change so dramatically. We now monitor the FX rate with more enthusiasm than our Millward Brown scores and gross contribution has become a key marketing metric rather than a disappointing grading at one’s annual appraisal.

In days gone by, we wondered whether to spend above the line or below the line; now we wonder if there will be anything to spend at all.

In tough times, one can always rely on the sales force (to destroy your margins further). Troubled by the possible loss of a new 3 series BMW and a cut back in golf days, our Tesco national account manager (NAM) has developed a stunning rescue package.

Unplanned price promotions

Yes, you’ve guessed it: the marketing team suggests that we put our prices up and the sales department decides this might upset Tesco. Instead, it agrees to run two more unplanned price promotions with the supermarket before the year end. This sounds like a winner – we have no margins, so let’s sell even more. Perhaps we could now even pay an additional over-rider at the year end to celebrate our box shifting.

In all fairness to our friends in the sales team, getting through price increases is a very nasty business. What a joy it must be to be marketing director Darling, raising revenues via statutory price increases and setting up innovative new sales promotion activities to flog more new cars in his brand plan for economic recovery. It also appears that he is the only brand manager in the country to spend more on advertising this year than last. Imagine all those agency lunches…And for me? Well, the euro rate has slipped further. Time for another Tesco promotion? Surely one of these days I shall wake up and be back in marketing.

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