Barely five minutes passed during any of the past four days at Advertising Week Europe without a mention of native advertising (and that absence of those two words was probably just on the lunch breaks).
WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell kicked off proceedings by saying producing native content and programmatic buying are the two biggest growth areas for his agency network, which manages $75bn of media across the world.
But he warned that consumers that consumers should not be duped by content that appears to be editorial, adding: “The boundaries between editorial and commercial are breaking down. That’s fine as long as it is clear to the consumer.”
News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson agreed, saying: “Mimicking editorial content is not clever. Readers are smart.”
At a separate session, Mashable’s chief revenue officer Seth Rogin went as far as denouncing the blanket term native advertising as “complete bullshit”.
A strong contender for second place in the buzzword bingo scorecard was “content marketing”. So much so that Kristof Fahy, William Hill CMO, said the term was “driving [him] nuts”. He animatedly told the audience in Marketing Week’s CMO 3.0 session to “calm down” and focus on what they should be doing: driving sales.
At a different session, Mark Eaves, co-partner of Gravity Road, said the race to create content has seen some ill thought-out executions. He said: “There’s nothing to stop you doing something if you have got enough money to do it. I do think there are not enough checks – the industry has run headlong into creating lots of content for everybody”.
How to deal with agencies that lie
Also at Marketing Week’s CMO 3.0 session, the most senior marketers from William Hill, Britvic, RSA and Pernod Ricard shared their tips on how marketers should best handle the “partnership of non-equals” they have with agencies.
They advised marketers to set their price from the very beginning in negotiations, to use third party procurement agencies to ensure specialists don’t “go rogue”, choose people that care about the brand but make sure they maintain an “edge” to the relationship and tie the brand and agency financial goals together.
Justin King and his marketing legacy
The stars were out in force at this year’s Advertising Week Europe, an event that saw the likes of Richard Curtis walking the same stage as Joey Essex and Idris Elba nestling up with Spotify’s Chris Maples.
Among the big guns was Sainsbury’s outgoing CEO Justin King. He told Marketing Week he will leave a legacy of “incredibly strong advertising that provides [it] understands the customer”
He admitted that the advertising put out by the grocer when he first joined 10 years ago “was not good enough” but cited the “Try something new today” and “Live well for less” straplines as examples of how it has since proved it understands the customer.
Coke on becoming a “right time” not a “real time” World Cup marketer
Coca-Cola’s head of assets and experiential Paul Dwan told the Advertising Week Europe audience on Tuesday that the drinks brand is hoping to bring a “level of restraint” to its World Cup marketing to avoid creating ill-conceived content in response to the greatest and most controversial moments during the tournament.
He added: “The biggest difference between previous tournaments is our focus on real-time marketing rather than pre-planned executions. That’s about having a right-time approach rather than being excessive. Our aim is to make those people watching at home feel like they’re part of the experience happening in the stadium.”
Dwan pointed to the brand’s marketing stunt around the opening game as an example of how its approach to fan engagement is evolving. The drinks maker is looking to unveil a flag made up of crowdsourced images ahead of the match between Brazil and Croatia.
Also speaking on the same panel, Tim Collins, managing director for Mars’ sponsorship agency Octagon, said: “There is going to be a shift from World Cup brands who previously tried to convince fans that were fans to strategies and understanding around the passion for sport. There will be more brands developing content that adds to that experience of enjoying and understanding football.”
The importance of young talent
Marketing Week’s “What makes a modern marketer” session covered how marketers should populate their team with young talent to survive in the fragmented media space and to affect change in the boardroom.
Nokia’s UK marketing director said marketers need to accept they are “no longer their target audience” and should look to build a team that reflects their customer demographic, or risk becoming “totally out of sync” with their target market.
Johnson said: “Working in technology is a ridiculously fast-paced industry and if you miss an innovation break, as Nokia has done over the last three or five years, then you almost miss a generation in terms of understanding how they consume media. The thing I’ve learnt is to surround yourself with young people to stay on top of those habits.
“Otherwise you get driven in certain areas by your media agency, for example, or use your own consumption habits to make decisions. You have to surround yourself with people who are going to be challenging you with new ideas. It’s about learning how to keep on top of new media channels and how I can influence my global colleagues about new ways to build consumer demand.”
British Airways marking strategy and planning manager Victoria McIvor earned a few tweets on the same session by saying that marketers need to be “T-shaped” – a specialist in something but also having the general skills to tap into what other parts of the business are doing.
Media heavyweights rule themselves out of Channel 5 bid
Headlines were made on Tuesday morning in Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club when the chief executives of Channel 4 and BT Consumer appeared to rule themselves out of bidding for the up-for-sale Channel 5 business – or at least at the £700m pricetag it is currently reportedly valued at.
BT Consumer’s CEO John Petter said “there’s not a lot to hang your hat on” in Channel 5 and its lack of value “counts [BT] out for any term” as far as making a bid for the business was concerned. David Abraham of Channel 4 also distanced his business from the bid, with the company’s sales director Jonathan Allan telling Marketing Week after the session that it is “not worth £700m”.
Paddy Power courts controversy – again
Perennial mischief maker Paddy Power lived up to expectations at Advertising Week Europe. Speaking about its recent press ad that offered to give money back to punters if Oscar Pistorius “walks” from his murder trial not guilty – which became the most complained about UK ad of all time – head of brand Paul Sweney said: “There is a certain amount of pride we take in being responsible for the most complained about ad of all time”.
He also spoke of how the company was “surprised” how complaints about the ad were “spun” to challenge the brand about promoting violence towards women. He said the reaction was “a bit of a stretch”.
Excuse us while we have a hunt for our tiny violin.