Creative recycling reduces cost of innovation

Marketers have the opportunity to make significant cost savings by using their brand’s global resources to support local projects, according to research by the CIM seen by Marketing Week.


Reuse, reduce and recycle is a mantra being pushed to the public to help the environment. But it’s a mantra that can also help marketers become more financially and creatively efficient, according to the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

Storing creative assets in a digital content management system accessible to all marketing departments across multinational corporations can help keep costs down, leaving more resources free to invest in innovation.

However, only a quarter of brands have proper systems in place to reuse or redeploy assets such as logos, and less than that see sharing best practice as central to their culture. This is according to the CIM’s Unlock the Value of Creative report in partnership with Canon Europe, which followed a survey of 140 organisations.

One of those organisations is business data provider Thomson Reuters, which has had a centralised Marketing and Creative Services (MCS) function since 2009. This helps it reduce inconsistency in creative development across departments as well as agency costs.

The MCS acts like an internal marketing agency that charges ‘clients’ up to 70% below the market rate for its work, although marketers are still able to commission an external agency. It also has a central asset management system.

Stewart Pedler, global head of marketing and creative services for Thomson Reuters’ financial and media businesses, explains the model: “If you make your services free, everyone comes to you and has a high priority need. You then get saturated with work and can’t differentiate the priorities. Putting a financial value to it makes people think about what they are briefing.”

Pedler says that his department works on about 6,000 projects a year for 206 internal clients within Thomson Reuters’ financial and media division, ranging from microsites to email campaigns.

He says that while his team often directs internal marketers to existing assets that might be of interest to them, the MCS may also work with external agencies on new creative.

I have seen a reduction in unnecessary duplication as a result of greater collaboration. One of the big savings you make as a company is when you stop doing similar things twice

However, an increasing number of colleagues are turning to the MCS as their first port of call, a move that senior management encourages, according to Pedlar.

He is also working on creating an “uber” MCS department by combining other creative services teams from Thomson Reuters’ legal, science, IP, tax and accounting divisions. “This is starting to pay dividends and is now an established way of working,” he says.

But there is a balance to be struck between saving money and investing it elsewhere, such as innovation.

“To ensure there are broader resources available for experimenting, the status quo for how organisations tend to operate is ripe for more efficiency to be squeezed in,” claims CIM head of insight Thomas Brown.

“It’s about making sure you’re being prudent in how resources are allocated and, where the opportunity exists, sharing and reusing resources more often.”

Nearly a quarter of respondents in the CIM report reveal that there is a high chance of their marketing budgets being cut this year. Brown highlights that handling creative assets in a more responsible way can demonstrate marketing’s financial accountability in a more positive light.

“We interviewed somebody at a top high street bank and he said it spent £100,000 on photography for use in print adverts. There might also be a department in France that is spending a similar amount on photography. If it involves generic scenery like a mountain or a hilltop, that can be used in another market,” he explains.

“But the bank doesn’t have those conversations or a mechanism for the UK to know what it is doing in France. The money saved could be reallocated towards trying something new.”

Connecting staff through a company-wide asset management system can make them feel part of something bigger and prompt them to share their work, adds Brant Long, global brand director of property management firm Jones Lang LaSalle (see viewpoint above). While his business revolves around many unconnected local property markets, aligning certain synergies has given individual marketers more resources to work with.

Collaboration: Coke’s global divisions work together to avoid duplication and help meet demand for branded content on digital media

With marketers needing to produce more content to meet the demands of digital and social media activity, Michael Dick, connections planning and media director at Coca-Cola Europe, says reshaping this content across markets is key.

“In the past few years, I have seen a reduction in unnecessary duplication as a result of greater collaboration around the world. It’s been a drive that’s happened both locally and led by our head office in Atlanta. And one of the big savings you make as a company is when you stop doing similar things twice,” says Dick.

But can marketers convince their boardrooms to put serious money and time into developing a central asset management system? CIM’s Brown says the technology is more affordable and accessible than ever and that marketing agencies are even beginning to provide it as a service to clients.

Brown also suggests starting small; for example, reaching out to one international colleague and working with them to build a case for sharing creative materials.

“If you can prove that together you have had a positive impact on how campaigns have performed and that you saved money then you have a great success story to take to senior management,” he advises.

And is it for every big business? Pedler at Thomson Reuters says: “You need backing from people to support what it is you’re trying to achieve. You have to take people on a journey and put a lot of time and effort into it.”

But as long as there is senior management buy-in, he maintains, there’s no reason why more brands can’t become more effective recyclers.

CIM report stats

  • 24% of marketers say there is a high or very high chance of their budget being cut in 2012
  • 43% of marketers say effectiveness metrics are presented to management frequently
  • 41% say they occasionally collaborate with finance and 28% say they do so frequently
  • 38% say they frequently use campaign measurement to inform future planning
  • 9/10 marketing leaders agree that initiatives to share good ideas and experiences across the department would deliver value, yet little over a third actually put such initiatives in place
  • 57% of marketers say they look at current assets when developing new creative
  • 26% say their business supports the reuse of assets



Brant Long
Global brand director
Jones Lang LaSalle

Property is a very local kind of business. Each area is a microcosm that doesn’t have much in common with any other market in the world. But we all have a corporate brand that we share in every market and there are more things we have in common than are different, so we do have shared assets we can use. The issue was where people could look at them.

When I joined three and a half years ago, we had just implemented a new platform. A lot of stuff was put there with good intentions but people weren’t able to find things.

I worked on a new web-based digital asset management system that is highly visual, intuitive and interactive. Anybody can go on it and see what’s there – but not everyone can download the assets or upload content.

Portals can become a dumping ground, so you need someone to curate and annotate the content. A content manager and I are responsible for this. We also have ‘brand champions’ across markets who have been trained in the system, so queries can go to them.

The system mainly provides major campaign assets that can work across geographies, such as multiple stock images with a long shelf life. But local material can provide inspiration to other markets. We’re in over 70 countries in 1,000 locations so you can imagine the savings can be quite substantial.

My role has shifted. I was originally more of a consultant to other marketers, but people in the field wanted more advice and for me to give them more tools. So I spent a year getting agencies and photographers in to create materials that they could run with.

Now the capabilities have grown and I feel more like a venture capitalist, using a global [pot of] money to support individual projects. For example, if I see someone has a project for the retail division, I might offer some funding in return for sitting on their ‘board’ and helping guide the project to have more scale and applicability across our other markets.

The common challenges of creative hubs

  • Marketers often lack a line of sight across the business. This prevents a holistic view of channels and campaign implementation and relegates these marketers to a potentially frustrating existence with local markets and the chance only to have an impact in pockets.
  • The disruption presented by digital is forcing businesses to redefine the skills they need from their agencies and marketing teams. Finding the right solution can be a challenge for many chief marketing officers.
  • Ensuring marketing roles across all relevant markets and teams are redefined and aligned to the intent of the marketing operating model. For example, if the intention is for central teams to lead creative development and production and for local markets to execute on the ground, there’s little point in employing creative marketers at a local market level.

Source: CIM Unlocking the Value of Creativity



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