Warc has again teamed up with the APSOTW – the Advertising Planning School On The Web.

This excellent initiative, run by a team of senior planners from across the world, poses challenges for up-and-coming planners and marketers. It's a chance to show off your ideas in front of a seriously, seriously senior line-up of judges.

We're lending a hand by carrying and promoting their challenges here on the Warc Blog and hopefully highlighting some of the ideas that come out of them.

You can view the previous challenges we helped out with here, and read an introduction to this latest challenge here.

Now, over to Rob Campbell for details of the new assignment…

I have chosen a situation that is all-too-common … a new Marketing Director comes in and wants to change everything, often for no other reason than they want to make their own mark rather than be seen as simply executing someone else's plan. That, or they want to make the agency-of-record drop their fee massively so they can look good to their board of directors from day one.

The reason I want to do this challenge is because I genuinely believe the best thing anyone can do for their career is start their own business … and as much as we might all think that when you're the boss, everyone has to follow your orders, the reality is that success often ends up being less about what you actually do and more about how well you can relate to your clients business, ego and fears and influence your clients business, ego and fears.

With that in mind, this is the assignment.

[For legal reasons, I better say this situation is all fictional and I'm only using it to set a foundation for the assignment]

Imagine you are Martin Sorrell … uber-god of the World's biggest ad agency network.

Now imagine one of your biggest clients is Fedex … uber-god of logistics.

Anyway, for years you've had an amazing and mutually fruitful and successful business relationship … to the point that both companies ensured all brands within their portfolio use each other for their marketing/logistic needs.

Business is up. Profits are good. Work standards are solid.

In fact, they are now one of your biggest clients globally.

Good times.

Suddenly the client at Fedex leaves to join their main competitor DHL, and in their place comes a young, arrogant accountant with 10 years of logistics management experience.

Rumours are flying that he wants to make major changes. You know he has a massive ego [amplified by the fact he's only 5 feet in height] … so it's important for him to be seen as a respected and successful business leader.

A week later, you get a phone call asking you to come meet the new CMO at his office.

You know he is going to announce that he's putting up the business for pitch. You also know all the competition brands are very happy with their agencies so the chance of picking one of them up if you lose FEDEX is small.

CHALLENGE: What speech/presentation will you give to ensure your new client recognises your partnership as being so valuable, they will cancel the pitch process and continue working exclusively with you with no change to remuneration?

Yes, I know it's open ended and ambiguous … but that's part of the challenge.

It is also – if you look at it another way – part of the opportunity.

Now the mandatories.

You have 2 ways to respond to this challenge.

  1. A letter – as if writing directly to the new Marketing Director.
  2. A video – as if speaking directly to the new Marketing Director.

[If you choose the option of the letter, it cannot be more than 1500 words long. If you choose the option of the video, it cannot be more than 7 minutes in duration]

Submissions must be sent to me by May 15th and there will be a 'prize' deemed the best argument by the judges.

Don't get too excited, the prize won't be too good, but the judges are excellent.

They include:

  • Gareth and Andrew
  • John Dodds: Who talks more sense about marketing than 99% of marketeers directors
  • Heather LeFevre: Planner, author, creator, doer
  • George Whitesides: A very important man at Virgin Galactic
  • Chris Wong: Advisor for Garage.com Venture Capitalists
  • David Tiltman: Head of Content at Warc
  • Me.

For the record, it doesn't matter if you're an experienced planner, a wannabe-planner or doing something totally different … this is something that is open to all and regardless of your experience and having a go is the first step to making change happen. In addition, while all the judges will be holding everyone to the highest of standards, their feedback will all be constructive, rather than destructive, so whatever the outcome, you will hopefully learn and gain from the experience. That is certainly the intention and goal of everyone behind this.

And with that, I will leave you to get cracking.

Have Fun. Be Sharp. Enjoy.