To most parents the familiar cry of, “are we there yet?” is a common echo from the back seat of the family car. It may be painful but if you stop and think about it for a second, it’s absolutely human.

Kids, like the rest of us, want to get there without taking the trip. It’s human nature! I have absolute sympathy and can strongly relate to the ankle biters because I too am now asking “Are we there yet?”

You see, I’ve spent my whole life in marketing. It’s been rewarding, and still is, but much of it has been a constant battle explaining and educating simple nuances of the marketing principles. I always believed that someday we’d get there and we’d conquer the small minded thinking that would have us believe that marketing is a low priority discipline with shallow processes.

It’s been a long time and I’ve lost my hair, my sense of humour, my objectiveness and my defensive qualities which made certain I never backed away from a marketing debate. Today, I’ve learned to allow my passion to hibernate and smile wistfully, being content to watch as lots of silly buggers attempt to re-invent the wheel. My colleagues share my amusement and they are so much younger, but inevitably we are forced to experience sound recommendations cast aside by people without experience or skill, who should know better. We painfully witness the mess that’s left behind – sometimes having to recover the bits and pieces and make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Through it all that small voice can still be heard. “Are we there yet?”

I’ve concluded that much of this stupidity is due to an indifference born from economic rationalism, ego and the age old idea that “when it looks easy – it probably is!” We’ve witnessed some howlers and of course if you say anything after the event, you are viewed as some kind of retro ‘Nostradamus’ (I’m sure there are those who can find similarities between the writer and the great sage).

One thing is for certain, the market is definitely, ‘not there yet’ and with all the smoke and mirrors of the so called top agencies, sporting their super cool, jet propelled but unrelated creative ‘razza-ma-taz’ we are unlikely to ever
get there.

Let’s take the ‘ Pitch‘ for example, we’ve won a few and lost a few but the one thing it always boils down to is the improbable reality that in a single pitch, and on the day, the best agency will arrive at the perfect solution, without the benefit of a true discovery; an understanding of the culture and a relationship that comprehends what is required verses what can be afforded. Today ‘pitches’ are made without any attention to the ‘less glamourous’ issues such as research and sound discovery practices.

Recently we lost a pitch because we tried to anticipate a series of issues, all of which should have been obvious to the Marketing Manager in charge of the agency shopping exercise. Not only were these items absent from the initial brief but when we enquired as to the finer details, the answers were met with stoney silence or a dismissal suggesting we should know these things!

Here’s some news for you soon to be ‘pitch requesters’ out there who are looking for the right organisation to work with and lay down your weary advertising and marketing woes. First, we are not bloody mind readers, we have no idea what you want to spend, or what your turnover is – something as unimportant as helping you work out a percentage spend relative to your likely return on investment would be out of the question, I suppose. I can only guess at your target market and unless you let me into your organisation I cannot dig for shards that tell me about the real culture, not the one you think exists. Additionally, forget about the big brassy chaps who have been churning out the same old tired stuff for decades. They are specialists at making you really believe they can second guess you and you’ll think that’s ‘cool’, when it’s really not.

Successful marketing and advertising is derived from GREAT discovery, patience and detail, then with a set of objectives and clear parameters, based on fact and an absolute understanding you can confidently hand it to the creatives and let them fly with it.

“Are we there yet?” – “Not long now son, play your game and we’ll be there soon!” (He said, hopefully).