Mark Green: “Advertising Agencies Have Lost Sight Of Impact”

Mark Green: “Advertising Agencies Have Lost Sight Of Impact”

Mark Green, the ANZ president of Accenture Song, believes that advertising agencies have lost sight of the impact that they can have on their clients’ businesses and are underselling their skills.

Lead image: Centre left, Mark Green, president ANZ, Accenture Song; Centre, Martin Brown, general manager, Nestlé. 

Speaking at the launch of the Advertising Pays report jointly published by the AANA, MFA, ACA and Deloitte at WPP House during SXSW Sydney, Green said that good agencies can help the brands they work with remain connected to their customers in challenging and changing times.

“In some ways, a lot of advertising agencies have lost sight of the impact of setting a brand strategy connected with customers and setting that sort of North Star,” he said.

“When you see a company that can talk about their purpose, strategy, vision and brand really specifically, that comes through in the work that they do and it inspires their employees with that singularity”.

The Advertising Pays report expounded the virtues and impact on the economy that adland has on the Australian economy and society — contributing more than two per cent to GDP and helping advance social causes from campaigns to help get people vaccinated, for example.

However, with the relationship between consumers and brands being in a state of flux, Green added that agencies have the skills and expertise to help companies chat a smooth course on choppy waters.

“[Agencies] can be influential across a whole bunch of different things from marketing to designing apps, products and services for brands and businesses,” he explained.

“That’s where I think the skills we have can help crystallise a company’s vision into an actionable customer relationship… You are the custodian of that relationship between the organisation and the customer. That’s becoming more influential because of the power of customers today”.

Martin Brown, meanwhile, Nestlé’s general manager and chair of the AANA Board, said that within companies that “outperform” their rivals, the benefits of advertising are well understood. As a result, advertising and marketing budgets are not seen as a cost centre. Instead, they’re seen as a cost-generator.

“There’s a very clear understanding about the power… of advertising. I think that whilst deep knowledge of the tools, techniques and capabilities might not be as well understood, the level of competitive advantage that is generated certainly is,” he explained.

The Advertising Pays report explained that less than a third of consumers had used Uber Eats when its “Tonight I’ll Be Eating” campaign, produced by Special, launched in 2017. Two years later, it had become the most popular food delivery service in Australia. Even now, consumers are willing to pay $1 to $3 for delivery on Uber Eats compared to other food delivery services.

“It was really interesting to see the graph that showed the dip in advertising expenditure through the pandemic. It was minor and wasn’t as large as we thought it would be,” continued Brown.

“The empirical evidence is clear, not only does long-term investment in brand leads to outperformance but, in periods of economic decline, those businesses that invest harder do get up in the long term. There is a very, very strong link. What we’re understanding much more now at board level is the power and impact of strong creativity and that this drives greater levels of relevancy and differentiation”.

That last point is not new. It’s something that has been discussed at advertising conferences for years. Josh Faulks, CEO of the AANA, told B&T TV that he was telling everyone who would listen to continue investment in advertising despite the high inflation and waning consumer confidence.

One point discussed during the panel and mentioned in the report was the growth in the number of people working in adland and with roles connected to the industry.

In 2021, some 85,900 people were directly employed in advertising in Australia — more than the rail passenger transport industry and more than double the size of the travel agent industry. That’s also up by 30,000 people since previous research in 2015, or around five per cent per annum — more than twice the rate of employment growth in the rest of the economy.

However, this is not spread equally across the country. Almost three-quarters of these roles are located in Victoria and New South Wales. Including Queensland brings this to almost 90 per cent.

Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland.

There are also a range of industries supported by advertising including free-to-air TV broadcasting (around 14,000 jobs in Australia), newspaper publishing (around 10,000 jobs), professional sports (around 4,400 jobs) and smartphone application development (around 8,000 jobs).

“A robust advertising sector encourages innovation and that’s for businesses big and small,” said Michelle Rowland, the Minister for Communications, speaking at the event.

“It motivates businesses to offer better products and it also motivates them to engage. This ultimately benefits us all through competitive pricing and our access to comprehensive information regarding the services or products we’re invested in,” she continued.

If that’s not good enough motivation for a Monday post-SXSW Sydney, we don’t know what is.




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