Bridesmaids appeal more than marriage

Some women complain that they are always the bridesmaid and never the bride. Until now, interim marketers have suffered from the same problem. Seen mainly as stopgaps, filling positions left vacant by promotions, redundancies and budget cuts, they have traditionally been the marketing sector’s bridesmaids.

Ruth Mortimer

But the latest Russam GMS Snapshots survey suggests that the average interim has seen their daily rate rise by 12% in the last year to June. They see themselves as “troubleshooter” project managers, parachuted into tricky situations to handle everything from managing a roster of agencies to making redundancies.

Some marketers already behave as if they are project managers. Last week, European chief marketer Simon Thompson moved to Apple. In the last few years, Thompson has skipped through automotive (Honda), telecoms (Motorola), online travel and now he joins an electronics firm.

While he was at Honda for around 15 years, Thompson’s tenures at Motorola (1 year) and (two years and four months) have been short enough that you could suggest he has become a troubleshooting project manager himself.

Of course, it’s ludicrous to suggest that all marketers should become interims or all marketing posts should become project management jobs. Sometimes only a long-term relationship will do between a marketer and a brand; breaking up doesn’t work for either party. For instance, James King was lured back to his former employer Motorola after a only short spell at rival Samsung.

It’s true for agencies too. Last week, Vodafone announced it was reappointing its former incumbent agency OMD to its global media business, just six months after its rival Carat won the account in a review. The mobile firm also shifted its ad work back to WPP in March, which had lost the account in 2006 to BBH.

So should you consider an interim marketer to deal with the needs of your brand or are you better sticking to a long-term relationship?
If your brand needs someone to guide it through sickness and in health, you’re better off with that permanent marketer. The best way to give birth to new products and initiatives is as part of a nurturing environment. But if you want someone to come in and shake up how everything runs, you might find that an interim marketer works for you. After all, marriage is not always the right move; sometimes, the bridesmaid looks like the more attractive option.

Ruth Mortimer, associate editor

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