When the consultants come…

Our ‘man on the inside’ provides a view from the top of the marketing tree

Tough times prompt tough questions and I received a few of those this week. Our parent holding company has been spending a few quid on consultants to take a look at the shape of its portfolio and my division has fallen under the microscope.

Along with other members of the management team, I have been required to supply the strategy consultants with a whole host of financial and operational information relating to our brands. We have been told by the powers that be to drop everything, clear our diaries and to prioritise giving the consultants everything they may ask for.

Much of the information the consultants have requested already exists and is regularly sent to our group head office, so I spent much of the week slightly bemused that it chooses to pay an army of outsiders to inform them again about what it already knows. I have never been a management consultant but I do get to see their invoices and can only admire the consultancy business model. For the record, I am not bitter and I do begrudgingly accept that their Powerpoint charts are sometimes quite pretty.

At this time of year, when the office rumour mill is usually dominated by tales of the Christmas party, the gossip this week has been all about the sudden appearance of the consultancy hit squad. Santa may be relied on once a year, but these type of consultants only come down the chimney when something major is going on.

Like most UK PLCs, our balance sheet is a little more geared than it should be. Word on the street is that one or more of our brands may be on several people’s Christmas shopping list and could be sacrificed as we seek to pay off our credit card bill. This, of course, remains pure speculation, but the last week has certainly had a whiff of corporate due diligence as opposed to a seasonal strategy review.

I suspect that little will happen until the January sales, but it will be sad if one of my brands is forced to leave the stable. It is a timely reminder that despite my relative seniority, I am ultimately still a brand manager rather than brand owner. The year ahead promises to be another incredibly tough one and I suspect there will be a few special resolutions along the way.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here