Agencies falling short

02 March 2012

NEW YORK: Many brand owners think their shopper marketing and advertising agencies are not working effectively together, limiting efforts to deliver a coordinated approach across the purchase process.

Hoyt & Company, the consultancy, and The Hub, the trade title, polled 54 agencies and 30 major clients, like Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, HJ Heinz, Unilever, Colgate Palmolive and L'Oréal.

Overall, 79% of the manufacturers surveyed agreed advertising and shopper marketing agencies showed a "lack of necessary background, training and skill sets" when it came to preparing for the future.

A further 69% of the client panel pointed to a "turf war" between these agencies, not least because the fragmentation of media has led to a blurring of the lines regarding the duties they perform.

Elsewhere, 50% of marketers stated that the two sets of agencies had a traditional "above the line versus below-the line" bias, taken to mean "we are strategic and you are not."

Wider issues identified incorporated a perceived "lack of interest" concerning modifying existing tactics, posting 36.4% here, a total reaching 90% when discussing ad agencies alone.

Some 37% of clients currently prefer the "brand agency leader" model where one agency handles all the others, and is responsible for encouraging integration and coordination.

Another 27% advocated appointing an "agency manager" to oversee the activities of various shops from different holding groups.

For 23%, agencies should be dealt with by function, and 13% thought it would be useful if all their partners were from the same holding company, and an in-house "lead" manager took charge.

By contrast, 39% of agencies favoured a client-side executive to "manage" shops from various conglomerates, while 26.9% backed the "brand agency leader" structure.

"In media development, equal expertise is sought in all of the areas that product marketers view as 'up for grabs' in the current environment - internet media, mobile media, app development and social media," the study argued.

However, while 53% of brand owners said ad agencies retained the central role for delivering messages and advertising copy, some 47% believed their shopper marketing partners would supply such services if necessary.

Data sourced from The Hub; additional content by Warc staff