Marketing models change

11 March 2011

NEW YORK: Many major brand owners are seeking to adapt their marketing structures, in reflection of the changing consumer and media climate.

Research firm Forrester surveyed 100 senior communications executives in the US, and found 75% of this panel intend to recalibrate existing models during 2011.

"It's almost like a reality check went off within marketing leadership, where they realised they can't be the brand of the future through yesterday's organisation," Chris Stutzman, a principal analyst at Forrester, told Marketing Week.

"There are a lot of driving forces behind this change, including the consumer having more control. Technology means you can now build your brand in ways you could have never imagined."

The key issues that need to be addressed, Stutzman suggested, incorporate removing internal barriers between different disciplines, and focusing on unifying goals.

Ensuring top-level involvement with platforms such as Twitter, setting aside meaningful funds for experimentation, and paying genuine attention to the customer experience are further essential objectives.

PepsiCo's Gatorade has demonstrated the power of this process, establishing a "Mission Control", manned by in-house experts and staff from agency partners, to constantly monitor social media buzz.

"Before, we had a marketing communications department, or a PR department, pushing out strategy for all our products, no matter who the target was," said William Morris, a director at Gatorade.

"Now we have teams associated with each product line looking at how people engage with the products."

He added: "These conversations in turn will influence where the brand goes in terms of new product development and its communications."

Soft drinks giant Coca-Cola also undertook a transformation exercise in 2010, appointing Ivan Pollard, previously at Naked Communications, to the position of vice president, global connections.

This formed part of a wider approach, as several leading executives saw modifications to their roles, with a particular preference towards three areas: "content", "connections" and "integrations".

"It's recognition of a shift in the landscape," Wendy Clark, Coca-Cola's svp, integrated marketing communications and capabilities, argued.

"Increasingly, we understand the idea of a liquid and linked landscape. And perhaps we weren't structured for ultimate success within that landscape."

InterContinental Hotels Group is revising its operating principles, anticipating the evolution of the trading environment.

"The big change for us has been to stop focusing on just the paid-for media on the plan and instead create a kind of schedule of all the owned media we have and then build out what media we could earn," Tom Seddon, IHG's chief marketing officer, argued.

"Social is very fast changing and our general attitude is one of experimentation. I don't think anyone has the magic formula yet, but we encourage experimentation and just keep trying to find things that work."

Epson America, the printer company, is also forging stronger bonds between its various units, according to Chris Nickel, the organisation's manager for CRM and direct response.

"My team, the marcoms group, PR and the advertising group are all together when products launch so we will all have a common goal," he said.

"But it's taken a cultural shift in the company to say 'hey, all of you silo groups are all one team, so let's get together.'"

Glenn Murphy, chief executive officer of Gap, revealed last month that the retailer wanted to press rapidly forward into the new media space.

"When you're going to do it, you got to do it right and you've got to get partnerships and you've got to lead the way," he said.

"And I know our marketing teams quite well here, and I think they're taking up that challenge. And they're got to take it on head on in 2011."

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff