Bottom line comes before creative risk

I found it ironic that your leader in last week’s Marketing Week (9 December) was followed over the page with a report on the Accenture study that found that marketing departments are failing to align their activities with their company’s business objectives (’Marketing’s agenda out of step with aim of business’).

The leader cites Phil Rumbol’s ’Gorilla’ ad as a calculated risk that paid off handsomely, when in fact it is a prime example of what the Accenture/CIM study warns against.

“Gorilla” won awards, plaudits and back-slaps within the marketing bubble, but during the period when it (and its increasingly random successors) were being aired, Cadbury lost market share to Galaxy. Our profession is having to demonstrate its worth like never before – the trade press is full of articles that repeat this point. I therefore find it surprising that your leader column is exhorting marketing practitioners to imitate a ’throw of the dice’ that resulted in more sales for that company’s biggest rival.

As marketers, whatever the product or service, our job is to make people want to buy things. In straitened times, if we continue to excuse bottom-line failure with blather like “record-breaking brand recall” and “arguably moving the evolution of marketing on a notch or two”, we will always, unfortunately, just be seen as the ’colouring-in’ department.

Andy Neilson
Marketing and communications
manager, Spidex Software

Editor’s response: Thanks for the letter. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know how seriously we take marketing effectiveness. And that’s why I believe Phil Rumbol was correct to convince a sceptical management that the Gorilla ad was a risk worth taking.

The campaign helped grow the UK Cadbury business by 10% and gain share at the expense of Mars. Its ROI was four times the FMCG average and won Cadbury plaudits for effectiveness as well as creativity. Metrics and the software to help us measure effectiveness are vital to business success. But marketers who understand the roles played by emotion and human instinct in consumer purchasing behaviour are every bit as vital.

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