LONDON: The mass marketing model is at something of a crossroads with agencies in danger of becoming simply arms-length ‘vendors’, according to an ex-planner who advocates greater focus on distinctive assets and more analytical rigour.

Writing in the July/August issue of Admap, Martin Deboo, a planner in a past life but now a consumer goods analyst at Jeffries investment bank, notes that FMCG businesses are growing organic revenues at half the rate of five years ago.

And as a result, “investors are wondering whether the mass marketing model is broken, in the face of channel shift, media fragmentation and constantly evolving consumers”.

Not so, he argues, pointing out that the most-viewed Unilever commercial on YouTube (‘Love at First Taste’ for Knorr) has garnered 60m views worldwide in two years – or roughly the same volume of views that a typical UK television commercial gets in a week.

He does have concerns, however, about where the big brand ideas that support the mass marketing model are going to come from in the future.

He observes that agencies and planners “seem to have lost interest in dowdy consumer goods” – six of the top ten most creative campaigns in last year’s Gunn Report, for example, were for not-for-profits or other cause-related activities.

“This feels like marked under-representation, relative to grocery brands’ significance to marketing spend, let alone shareholder value,” Deboo says.

Add in the trend towards in-housing and reduced agency rosters and it seems clear that in future fewer people will be working in agencies and fewer ads will be made.

On the plus side, however, “there should be a premium available for a business model and talent pool that can deliver the requisite big brand ideas”.

Further, “clients are going to find it difficult to get the sort of quality of solutions from in-housed or least-cost solutions that they should be able to get from the best out-housed talent”.

Accordingly, Deboo offers three pieces of advice for planners:

  • stick to grand strategy, not ad-tweaking;
  • integrate communications planning and consumer insight;
  • rediscover rigour and analysis.

Sourced from Admap