Brandowners: advertising must be creative in tough times

Cannes: Leading marketers have called for advertising briefs to remain committed to great ideas that consumers can interact with in the face of the deepening recession.

Sir Martin Sorrell
Sir Martin Sorrell

Marketers from leading food and pharmaceutical firms say brands recognise the economy will get tougher and are relying on ad agencies to come up with creative ideas that will engage people and encourage them to continue spending.

They were speaking at the Cannes Lions advertising festival debate, chaired by WPP Worldwide chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell.

Brian Perkins, vice president of corporate affairs at Johnson and Johnson, says: “There are no shortage of people who tell us we should cut spend, but we feel we should look for evangelists who will step up, offer us great ideas and have some courage in the face of the economic downturn, Marketing and advertising is more important in these times.”

Marc Pritchard, global marketing director at Procter & Gamble adds: “The recession has allowed us to hit the reset button and rethink everything. We are striving to ensure that we touch and improve the life of consumers, looking at how to get more value and shift the media to where the customer is, such as the integrated Pampers golden sleep campaign for babies and mums, and our positioning of Olay as a cheaper alternative to expensive department store products. Great ideas around what consumers are looking for are what it is all about.”

Marketers operating in the food business went on to say that it was important they helped customers find value and additional use for their products when they are feeling the pinch.

Mary Beth West, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Kraft Foods, says: “People have stopped eating in restaurants, so we see that as an advantage to define an idea that has a strong value proposition and means the customer feels they understand why they should pay a little extra for your product. You absolutely have to spend on promoting these ideas – so we have a fully integrated plan, printing recipies on products and online, as well as using an iPhone app to offer additional help.”

Mary Dillon, executive vice president and global chief marketing officer of McDonald’s Corporation adds: “The key is to find a way to portray the right idea at the right time across as many media points as possible to ensure that as much awareness as possible can be established and the ads can be tracked to see how effective the concept is.”

All of the marketers agreed that integration and use of new media was essential to this, but stressed that agencies must be able to come up with a great idea and carry it across all forms of media, and in some cases across the world too. Market research and analytics is essential to ensuring campaign success, they added.

The marketers also backed Bob Geldof and Kofi Annan’s calls earlier today to encourage greater social responsibility in advertising.

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