CHICAGO: Planners must tackle "business challenges" rather than focus solely on "communications challenges" to thrive in the new marketing ecosystem, according to a leading executive from Mondelez International.

Eliza Esquivel, vp/global brand strategy at the snacks company, discussed this topic while speaking at the Strategy Festival 2014 organised by the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies).

And she outlined a "huge problem" for planners to address, in the form of proving their value beyond simply delivering creative.

"If we, as planners, exist solely to serve the creative work – to brief it in and help sell it in – we're in trouble," Esquivel told the conference audience.

"In fact, this self-belief among planners is the single biggest threat to our existence." (For more, including more insights about the changing role of planning, read Warc's exclusive report: Mondelez strategist challenges 4A's Strategy Festival to light creative fires.)

That is because "communications challenges" are only part of a much wider set of "business challenges" now facing clients.

"Whenever a planner walks into a client meeting as a planner, they are seen as someone who spends money, not makes money," Esquivel said. "That is what ultimately disempowers us all. That's what needs to change."

Achieving such a transformation is growing in importance at a time when brands are rolling out ever-increasing amounts of content – but also as the quality of this material does not always match the quantity.

Many planners, Esquivel suggested, are guilty of exhibiting "bystander syndrome" when faced with this situation, giving the impression they are "just too posh to push".

Consistently providing innovative solutions to business problems promises to remedy this perception, and enhance the status of planning across the board.

"As a client, I can tell you creativity is the hardest thing for us, but it's the thing we desperately need the most," said Esquivel.

Data sourced from Warc