LOS ANGELES: Marc Pritchard, one of the most powerful - and influential - voices in global marketing, insists that advertising agencies must reduce complexity, increase transparency and "step up on brand safety" in order to repair the breakdown of trust among clients.

The Chief Brand Officer at Procter & Gamble outlined a new "action plan" for agencies during a morning keynote session at the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) 2017 Transformation Conference in Los Angeles.

And he revealed that the owner of Tide, Pampers and Always has cut its number of agencies by 50% worldwide in a bid to streamline management processes, build better partnerships and ensure P&G only works with the "very best" shops.

While 95% of the organisation's marketing output is today created by less than 20% of its agencies, however, Pritchard stated the continuing requirement to tap a "long tail of specialty and sub-specialty" shops remains taxing.

"To be frank, your complexity should not be our problem, but it still is, and we need you to consolidate skills and services," he said. (For more details, read Warc's free-to-access report: P&G’s Pritchard: The agency business must change.)

One solution, he suggested, might involve re-imagining full-service agencies for the digital era. "We're returning to a modern version of this model in a few markets, and it's already making a difference," Pritchard said.

"I'm not saying one-stop shops are the answer everywhere. But, bottom line, we need you to get simpler."

The issue of complexity is also hampering P&G's quest for greater media transparency, as the supply chain lacks consistent metrics, incorporates "too many hidden touches", and is rife with the potential for fraud.

"We want you to innovate, but, right now, job one is leading media transparency," Pritchard said. "We need to clean up now – and invest the time and money we save into better advertising to drive growth."

Nowhere is this agenda more pressing than in the area of "brand safety". P&G, in fact, is among the numerous brand owners to have recently frozen spending on YouTube due to concerns their marketing messages appear next to inappropriate content.

"Step up on brand safety," Pritchard urged the 4A's delegates. "We hold agencies and publishers equally responsible for placing our ads only where they belong, and keeping them away from objectionable content.

"We have a zero-tolerance standard when it comes to brand safety. Our brands are protected in other forms of media. The same zero-tolerance standard of performance applies to digital media."

Data sourced from Warc