“Clients Can’t ‘Imprison’ Agencies Then Expect Great Creative”: Mars CMO

Businessman behind bars feeling guilty

Mars global CMO Bruce McColl has told attendees at the AANA’s annual conference this morning that you can’t keep your agency in prisoner-like conditions if you expect to create great work with them.

David Hovenden
Posted by David Hovenden

McColl said the four conditions of creative imprisonment were:

1. Subsistence rations

We should pay our agency partners enough so that they can make a good profit, he said. That way they can afford to attract and retain the very best of staff themselves. “We know creative makes an impact on our profit, so we need ot make sure we’re giving them enough money to reward their own team,” he said.

2. Mandatory rules

McColl used the example of how prescriptive the pedigree dog food brand used to be to make his point. In the fourth second there should be a chunk of meet on the fork. In the eighth second their needs to be a shot of the dog looking longingly at the owner and by the 30th second their ought to be a bond between the owner and the dog because of the product.

3. Layers of prison wardens

Agencies shouldn’t have to have multiple masters within an organisation. They shouldn’t have to machete their way through internal bureaucracies to get an idea up. They should have free reign once an idea has been approved to get that idea up.

4. The threat of death row

If you want to get the best out of your agency you can’t have the constant threat of dismissal hanging over their heads, McColl advised. “You need to have your agency give input and to let them challenge you,” he said. To that end, McColl said that one of the first things he implemented when he became global CMO was to remove anyone else within his 2000 strong marketing team to sack an agency without first consulting him. “It’s like a marriage, you need to work through your difficulties,” he said.

For the record, Mars, a $35 billion company producing everything from Wriggleys gum to Skittles through to Pedigree dog food, has BBDO and DDB (both Omnicom agencies) as its creative partners and MediaCom (WPP) as its only media agency.

McColl then showed an example of one of his brand’s bad TVC that would come from an imprisoned agency.

Then the same product when it was given a “freedom brief”.