The marketing industry has come a long way in embracing the fact that clients don't just want pretty and funny ads anymore; they want comprehensive marketing programs that yield business results, as well as brand recognition.
Sounds obvious? Bear with me. It's just that every now and then, an event occurs that doesn't entirely make sense in this new paradigm. Such as CareerBuilder (CB) putting its ad account into review after the most recent Super Bowl ads failed to make the top tier of USA Today's AdMeter, a poll of 238 readers.
Incumbent ad agency, Cramer-Krasselt (CK) was blindsided by the review and promptly resigned the business. Now, lots of agencies resign business if the account goes into review and it predicts a poor chance of rehire. But this was no ordinary self-defense move. CEO Peter Krivkovich wanted his staff to know that CB's move was made for entirely the wrong reasons.
He wrote an impassioned internal memo that somehow made its way to the media. In it, he cited numerous business results - key of which was taking the site from the number three spot to number one, thanks to a strategy change instigated by CK that had it targeting not the same job-seekers that Monster was, but those people who aren't quite being fulfilled by their current positions, but had yet to act. His memo has yielded overwhelming support from agency heads furiously nodding, and even several client-side executives criticizing their counterparts.
CB's marketing is probably best known for its popular ads featuring monkeys. The recent ads turned the premise upside-down and put people into the jungle. Honestly, I'm not entirely surprised they didn't score higher. But the ads were only part of the picture. Last year's Monk-e-Mail usurped Burger King's Subservient Chicken as the most passed-along viral campaign according to many metrics - without the support of an ad spend. Even the media planning strategy was a creative one, with ads hitting on Sunday evenings and Mondays; key "I hate my job" moments.
This is just one side of the story, and who knows if there are extenuating circumstances. But I do wonder if we are at least in part seeing the issue of bragging rights rear its head. Many agency creative directors will quietly admit the pressure to create an ad that will help the client get his or her next job. And the tenure of CMOs is infamously short.
Despite this so-called new paradigm, we are still in an era when a recognizable, popular ad can define a CMO's fingerprint better than, say, a subtly effective word-of-mouth effort.
More and more, the decisions that marketers take have a direct impact on the PR function. In this case, PR was part of the fully integrated strategy (through CKPR), and had its contribution rubbished at the hand of an ad that failed to score. I'm certain agencies will line up to pitch - few will choose not to pursue on principle. Judging by the evidence, all the client deserves is an agency who can put together a good ad. It's up to the agency community, PR included, to not pander to the reel obsession, and instead present fully integrated ideas with a clear business goal at the heart of the strategy. This behavior shouldn't be encouraged.