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Why is the head of Cadbury Europe quitting?

June 30, 2009

Tamara Minick-ScokaloTamara Minick-Scokalo, head of Cadbury Europe, is leaving the company at the end of July. That much we know for a fact. The more interesting question is why.

According to Cadbury ceo Todd Stitzer, the departure is no more than a delayering exercise aimed at surmounting the “cost challenge” belabouring us all in these straitened times. Ignasi Ricou, currently head of Cadbury commercial operations Europe, looks like being the gainer. He will become president while retaining his commercial functions.

But wait a minute, wasn’t Minick-Scokalo Todd’s blue-eyed girl? That’s certainly what the P&G-bred marketing executive was billed as. She joined only two and a half years ago, from Elizabeth Arden, as global commercial chief and was catapulted to president of Europe last January.

It’s strange, even careless, to let your head of Europe go after six months in the post. Perhaps there were personal reasons? Perhaps she wanted to move on? Maybe. In which case it’s a curious coincidence that her departure has been wrapped up in a management reshuffle that also involves the legal department.

At any event, Fallon London (of ‘Gorilla’ and twitching eyebrows fame) should watch its back. She was the agency’s biggest champion.

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Creative arithmetic causes row over who came second at Cannes

June 30, 2009
Having a laugh?

Levy: Having a laugh?

An amusing spat has broken out between two ad giants over who has won the most awards at Cannes this year. Well, not won exactly – because we know that Omnicom was the runaway winner for the second year in a row. No, this – believe it or not – is about who had the honour of coming second.

Publicis was first on the draw, with a press release proudly trumpeting its own success with 101 “total statues” (as they say in the trade). Just like last year, when it also claimed to come second with, er, 101 statues.

Not so, says WPP indignantly. The facts are Publicis only got (by WPP calculations) 95, which places it way behind WPP, with 107; WPP also came second last year, with 107 statues versus Publicis’ claimed 101.

So incensed is WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell that he has fired off an email to his opposite number at Publicis, Maurice Levy. I think it’s worth quoting in full:

“I know we all like a bit of hyperbole – but the Cannes Lions press release you have just issued takes the biscuit! The facts are that for the last two years, at least, Publicis has come third at Cannes with regard to the total number of Lions won.

This year WPP won 107 lions and according to our calculations, Publicis won 95 – although your press release claims 101. Last year, WPP won 104 Lions and your website confirms 101. We cannot find the calculation for the previous year.

Strange arithmetic, therefore. Would you like to publish a correction, for the sake of accuracy? Please take a look at our website if you are confused.”

I have yet to discover Levy’s response. But I hope when it comes it does not involve challenging Sir Martin to a duel in order to salve wounded Gallic honour.


Marketing Week relaunches Agency Reputation Survey

June 30, 2009

Marketing Week is relaunching its popular Agency Reputation Survey. Only this time, the survey will form the foundation stone of something much more ambitious.

The research, conducted among top clients by YouGov, will help to build up a comprehensive and thorough record of marketers’ attitudes towards agencies and advertising trends. We aim to add a lot of new qualitative material to the usual league tables.

It’s a subject, for better or worse, about which I know quite a lot – as I set up the first survey in 1989. There were plenty of league tables around then, many of them avidly followed. The problem was, they didn’t tell you enough. Agencies routinely exaggerated their self-complete billings figures by as much as they thought they could get away with. (The outdoor market must be much bigger than we supposed, we used to say). Nielsen figures, on the other hand were only a ratecard snapshot. Financial reporting was another route, but companies didn’t file their figures at Companies House regularly enough to make meaningful comparisons. Besides, the coming of the network groups meant that the performance of individual agencies was progressively consolidated into that of a few mammoth holding companies. That left reputation –  dissected over a wider variety of criteria such as creative excellence, planning, account handling, value for money and so forth, which could then be weighted and aggregated into a single super league. Agencies might not like the results very much, but it was what clients really thought – and that’s all that matters really.

Over the years, as I am acutely aware, the agency business has changed beyond recognition, with the splitting out of media buying/planning and the upsurge of digital. It is no longer possible, or probably desirable, to produce one mega ‘full-service’ league table. The new research will take account of that, by confining the survey, or rather surveys and updatable commentary, to more discrete areas – starting with creative agencies.

The top-line findings will be revealed in the autumn, although those involved in the survey will be offered a sneak preview prior to publication. The email inviting you to participate should be in your inbox this Thursday, so please look out for it.

The project is being led by my colleague, Sonoo Singh.


Phil Kotler prepares for a bumpy ride

June 29, 2009

KotlerSuppose the world around us, political and economic, is irrevocably changing. Imagine, instead of long periods of uninterrupted prosperity, punctuated by sudden but short-lived economic contractions, an era in which the management of crisis has become the new normality. Only it’s not a piece of dystopian scenario planning, but a fast-developing fact.

That at least is the belief of marketing guru Philip Kotler who, with co-author John Caslione, has just published a book called Chaotics, The Business of Managing and Marketing in the Age of Turbulence. If their vision is borne out by reality, it will make a nonsense of many of the assumptions which govern current marketing and management strategy.

It’s meant as a short read for C-suite executives on a mid-haul flight. If air turbulence doesn’t  cause them to fasten their safety belts, the book certainly ought to.

For more, see this week’s column in the magazine, out on Wednesday.


Cannes ad winner blows your mind away

June 28, 2009

So here it is, no great surprise either: this year’s winner of the Lion film grand prix at the Cannes ad festival. There’s no doubt that Tribal DDB Amsterdam’s ‘Carousel’ is a cinematic tour de force. It consists of one big tracking shot of a heist gone wrong, the conceit being only the camera moves while all the characters, on several dimensions, are frozen in time. Spectacular, gripping, you’ll want to see it again … that cop at the beginning, and the end, is he really a cop, or one of the gang about to get away? Why is the shoot-out taking place in a hospital instead of a bank etc etc?

But what it’s all about, again? Ah yes, Philip’s new 21:9 cinema-experience television set, priced at a modest £3,000. You didn’t see the brand name anywhere? Wake up, you don’t need to. The product is unique, and only those stupendous innovators at Philips, as opposed to Sony, Samsung or the rest, could possibly have come up with it. Besides, the ad’s not designed to run on the telly, or cinema screen; it’s digital, so you can get plenty of split-screen twiddly console bits that reinforce the cinematic experience … Not to mention that it’s viral, so it will get the product talked about. And, if you really didn’t know the point was a wide-screen Philips TV set, you’re not going to admit that in sophisticated company, now the ad’s got top prize. “Sales?” Did someone say something?


Michael Jackson reboots his career

June 26, 2009

imagesHelp in reviving a flagging career can come from the oddest quarters. There’s just nothing like a hand from the Grim Reaper to pep up your market worth.

Take Michael Jackson for example. In life, he had long been regarded as a freak of dubious personal standards. His estate was, more than once in the past few years, on the verge of bankruptcy.

In death, however, we can’t get enough of him. Within hours of the announcement of his fatal heart-attack, his albums occupied the top 15 slots on online retailer Amazon. A new record in iPod downloads of his singles must surely be in the offing.

The debate over Jackson’s true level of talent will reverberate for some time. There’s no doubting his star quality, however. Or his importance to the corporate world.

“He really set the bar for the corporate world to embrace pop music,” says Ryan Schinman, CEO, Platinum Rye Entertainment, which partners celebrities and music talent for commercials. “The minute that Michael did [the Pepsi Billie Jean] ad it broke the mould for pop stars to endorse corporations. And today it is still one of the most memorable commercials of all time.”


When L’Oréal went beyond the pale

June 25, 2009

115The quality of subbing in our national newspapers these days! Imagine my interest when I read in The Times ‘L’Oréal found guilty of racism in shampoo ads’. Was this a re-run of that shameless ploy at Ogilvy & Mather all those years ago, when they  ‘glocalised’ a Ford print ad for the Polish market by whiting out all the black employees’ faces?

In fact, L’Oreal had done no such thing. What had actually happened – according to the body copy below the headline – was that a L’Oréal subsidiary, Garnier, had been found guilty in France’s highest court of fielding a white-only female team to sell its Fructis shampoo into French supermarkets. Despite the company’s feeble defence that Black, Asian and Arab women would be less able to articulate the product advantages, L’Oréal seems to believe France is a (not very latently) white supremacist society.

By way of postscript, the guilty sub was on to something – if only subliminally. Because L’Oréal does have form in manipulating its ads. Last year, it had to furiously back-pedal after being accused of tampering with Beyoncé Knowles’ skin tone to make her look paler for a Feria hair highlighting ad appearing in Elle’s US edition.


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