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BW Businessworld

‘It’s Real Time Marketing’

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The president and chief executive of advertising agency Draftfcb can give journalists a run for their money. Not only does Laurence Boschetto take notes of your questions, but jots down his answers as well. BW's Prasad Sangameshwaran makes Boschetto work thrice as harder by asking him to give three answers for every question that's posed to him. Excerpts:

The three things that will change advertising forever

The economy we live in today, the digital world, and the global aspect of our environment. They are all indicative of the immediacy and the pervasiveness.

We live in a world where volatility might become the norm where the bull and bear markets are not 18-24 months, but two weeks to a month. That changes everything including consumer confidence and security as consumers are living in a real environment. Take digital and globalisation. They are synonymous, but also exclusive. The digital media has put everything out there in the public domain.

With globalisation, you have immediate access to communities around the world. You can bring a major brand down overnight or take it to a new level of achievement. In the past, people spoke of building equity of a brand over a period of time. Now, to get an immediate recall, many clients are possibly asking for celebrities. There might be a risk with that strategy, but are you really going to care if the life of a brand is not as long as it used to be? With companies merging and converging, what happens to a brand portfolio when it gets transferred from one company to the next?

We are evolving into real-time marketing. I don't say that the days of 3-5 year strategic planning are over, but they are more difficult to achieve. You need a clear sense of direction over 3-4 years, but you also need to be nimble and fluid to address the changes and course-correct them through the events of the day.


Established: 1873 (current name

since mid-2006)

Headquarters: Chicago and

New York, US

Employees: 9,200 (worldwide)

Key businesses: Advertising, branding,

strategic planning, customer relationship

management, data strategy and analytics,

digital, direct, experiential, event sponsorship,

media planning, multicultural, retail, promotion,

and direct-toconsumer and professional

healthcare communications

When I talk of real-time marketing, those marketers who evolve to a point that they can almost on a daily basis adjust their media mix, modify their message and respond to the issues of the day are the ones who will develop equity over a longer time.

What are the three things you wish the advertising industry had never done?

One, they let an opportunity go by never understanding the significance of data. They thought that data was nothing other than datapoints that have absolutely no role in understanding consumer behaviour.

Two, accountability from a perspective of not likeability and intent to purchase from the qualitative side, but the hard metrics of sales from the quantitative side. We run this campaign and what does it do to true performance.

Three, commoditising oneself. We made ourself into interchangeable parts when in reality we are not. Every ad agency's go-to-market is different, and we have lessened our own value. Part of our agency's proposition is on how do we inject that value back into the paradigm so that we become a necessary ingredient at the table.

The three consumer insights that advertising needs to pay attention to.

Consumers like to be recognised and respected; people want to be made to feel good; and, consumers are gravitating towards the true rather than venture into the new because there's a sense of security.

Who you are is how you show up. You show up consistently whether you are a consumer, a marketing professional, husband or a friend.

Three instances when advertising expenditure is wasted

Clarity of purpose: when people do not have a clear sense of what they want to achieve, it becomes tremendously wasteful as they drive you to a point where you are trying to do guesswork for your clients.

Clarity of destiny: what do you want to achieve out of this.

Understanding the influence that brands can have along that journey: each one of that has the potential to lead to a lot of waste in terms of strategy time and a waste of ideation time. When Coke wanted to change its formula, it did not understand that consumers had a great deal of allegiance to the existing formula. So in tests even if the new version had performed better, they were overlooking the equity that they had in the existing product. They had a sense of destiny, but didn't understand the influence that the brand has over its consumers.

Even when clients venture into new spaces such as digital where they set aside money to tap the digital world, they don't know what form of digital — a banner ad, Twitter or Facebook — to choose. Importantly, they carved out a budget and they don't understand what they are going to get for it or do not understand what the metrics of success are. It can set you up for failure because anything you deliver is not going to be sufficient and not going to give you qualitative measures to substantiate the investment.

What are the three challenges for the agency business?

Change, nimbleness and reinvention. Basically, they are all the same. Both digital and traditional agencies are racing to the middle. Whoever takes the knowledge of the traditional and applies it to the new and cracks the code of monitoring it is the agency that's going to succeed.


(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 15-11-2010)