Marketing runs the risk of failing the CFO

The new John Lewis ad is an integrated showcase of excellent marketing, but what do finance directors think marketers contribute to the business?

There have been two major developments in the world of marketing this week. First, the John Lewis Christmas campaign, which is a masterclass in truly integrated marketing. Second, research from Marketing Week and Econsultancy, which shows the dangerous lack of integration between finance and marketing in most businesses.

Let’s start with the positives. The Christmas advert season kicked off in earnest with the launch of John Lewis’s annual marketing spree. This year, other retail brands have tried to move into its territory. Debenhams has launched a heart-warming story featuring a cute child, Marks & Spencer’s campaign features fairies, while Harrods has unveiled an animated film featuring mice helping Santa.

John Lewis, however, is the undisputed king of the marketing season. Last year, retailers spent around £390m on festive campaigns so it’s big business. See our analysis on page 6.

The success of John Lewis’s Christmas campaign is the result of how it uses its story in every part of what it does – stores, merchandise, social, content, emails, print ads – it is truly integrated. It doesn’t feel like a commercial proposition but engaging content.

But let’s talk about a total lack of integration. Our research, revealed at this week’s Festival of Marketing, which surveyed not only some of the most senior marketers but their chief finance officers too, shows a schism at the heart of companies. The statistics are depressing and startling (see page 14).

Less than a quarter of finance directors know what their return on investment is from marketing, while only 39% have confidence in marketers to make good commercial decisions. Less than half say senior marketers have much influence on the business.

So while we marvel at how beautifully John Lewis tells a story, let’s also absorb the bigger story here. The words that finance directors used in the research to describe marketers are worrying: fluffy, weak, poor, uninspired and unimportant.

We at Marketing Week know that is not what marketing is. We know it’s a growth driver, a strategic priority and vital for business success. But clearly, the story that needs most work by marketers is the internal one.

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