"If marketing is just advertising then this is not enough"

Written by Pritha Mitra Dasgupta | Updated: May 31 2011, 05:50am hrs
Four years ago when Laurie Coots, chief marketing officer of TBWA, attended India's largest advertising and marketing festival Goafest for the first time ever, she was just a participant and not a speaker. This year she was back with a session on '5 things every marketer should worry about'. After the session, FE's Pritha Mitra Dasgupta caught up with Coots for a freewheeling chat on the latest global advertising trends and how agencies should market themselves in this new decade. Excerpts:

You said advertising agencies don't follow the 5Ps of marketing and are focusing only on promotion. Why do they need to look at all the 5Ps

Agencies are distracted by the promotional part of the 5Ps. They have forgotten that marketing is meant to drive the commercial success of the enterprise. We have met clients who dont know anything about sales. They dont know anything about the way money is made by the company. They just do advertising. And I think that's a mistake. We are seeing companies unite all these things again, which is a good beginning, since only then can we influence the success of the company. That will then build respect for what marketing does. If marketing is just advertising then it is not enough.

Recently, TBWA did a research on 'social activism'. Can you tell us about the key findings

The key findings are that people in their twenties are very interested in social causes. They just have a very different way of being involved. It has to be social and it has to have something in it for them. Second, they are incredibly loyal. So 4 out of 5 consumers will tell a friend about a product or a company, and 79% of the time they will continue to purchase and it's very important that companies understand this. Many a time, companies dont set up their social network to engage and to bring people and give them things that they can then pass on to their friends, thus losing out on a big opportunity.

Social media has revolutionised the entire marketing gamut. But are clients prepared for it

Most companies do not understand what social media is, so it is important to educate them. They need to understand what their social media strategy is, how do they engage in social media, what do they do there. If you are a regulated industry then you will have to be careful about what you say. But you dont have to be careful about what people say to each other. So being able to fuel education about your brand has an important part. If you are a brand that embodies fun, then your job on social media is to give small fun bytes. So understanding who you are as a brand and being authentic in the social media is going to be really important.

You have been with TBWA for 26 years. Tell us about some of the landmark trends that you have witnessed over the last decade.

In the 1970s we saw creativity at any expense, in the 1980s we saw integration, direct mails, in the 1990s we were all about the dotcom and in the last decade, I think we have achieved a certain level of sensibility. We now understand the power of creativity but we also know that it cant just be talking. So the good news is people are much more interested now in seeing how a brand is going to behave and have a level of transparency that can be reflected. So it's hard work because brands have to behave better now. They cant have secrets in the closet because somebody will find out. So the biggest trend now is transparency, which is driven by consumers, the choices that are made by consumers and they can influence many others with their vote.

In the new decade how do you think agencies should market themselves

In Asia and in India agencies still are very pitch oriented whereas in the United States and parts of Western Europe , they are very marketing oriented. Again in Middle East and similar markets, agencies are very pitch oriented. Even existing clients make you pitch. And that's a very expensive way to win the business and a very expensive way to raise your reputation. So I always encourage agencies to be more proactive. I advise them to win small assignments and then grow them larger. We really believe that it's all about disruptive ideas that fuel a brand belief and brand behaviour.

You have been talking about media arts. What exactly is it

Media arts is just a fancy word for talking about how you behave across all the media. And it's grounded in the idea that every idea has a perfect medium. So an idea that's like an episode between two people probably is better on TV than print. Something that's really interactive is better on digital or mobile. In the construct of a big idea you are going to have all the little executional ideas, and for those to really work they have to be in the right media.

Why is it important to bring this to India

I think it's important because the framework and orientation of India is very inventory oriented. And inventory does not provide meaning. And if you are an agency that's stuck just managing an inventory, you can never build the emotional connection or build the relationship that you need to with your client. So I believe that we not only need to go down the checklist and do just a TV commercial or a print ad, we need to say what is the idea, who is the audience and what is the best way to connect with them. Everything between a brand and its audience is media. It could be a sales call, it could be a flier, it could be a party in someone's home. That is media. And it needs to be managed like a creative project instead of just inventory.