End Madison Avenue’s Manslaughter (MAM)! Madison Avenue’s self-destructive practices need to come to an end.
In the wake of a decade-or-more of marketing cost reductions, CMOs have lost credibility and power; procurement departments have confused benchmarking with marketing; and demoralized agencies have seen their capabilities severely compromised through downsizings, juniorizing and Scope of Work inflation.
Cost reduction programs have run their course. They were never a credible substitute for brand growth as a way of delivering shareholder value.
There have been few strategic winners during the past decade, other than the disrupters – Google, Facebook, Amazon and the unicorns of online commerce. Legacy brands are languishing. Millennials remain a mystery. Digital and social marketing are question marks. Trust has eroded. Advertisers and agencies alike are battered, like addicts caught in a vicious cycle of self-destructive behavior, their relationships increasingly unmanageable. Madison Avenue’s Manslaughter (MAM) has taken its toll.
Advertisers and agencies must develop a new paradigm and work in unaccustomed ways to restore brand growth and profitability.
Advertisers and Ad Agencies should Take the Pledge to end dysfunctional MAM practices
We, advertisers and agencies, pledge to work together constructively to realize the full performance potential of our brands. We pledge to enhance our working relationships and avoid or end behaviors that undermine our relationships and our prospects for success.
We will view our relationships as strategic partnerships designed to deliver improved results, not as commodity-like relationships between customers and vendors that are bought and sold on cost.
We will work together with a minimum number of partners to reduce complexity and increase our long-term focus on results. This will require enhanced agency capabilities and long-term commitments from advertisers.
Not ad hoc experimentation. Together, we will analyze and determine the long-term growth potential of our brands, and plan annual media, media mixes, spend levels and Scope of Work deliverables that have the highest probability of achieving brand success. We will adjust our marketing programs based on concrete feedback and learnings rather than on speculative hope.
Agency fees and resources will be determined transparently based on 1) the work to be done at 2) market billing rates that support agency talent needs. Over time, agency value-added will be expected to deliver a multiple of cumulative fees paid.
We will monitor and root out unacceptable practices, like unplanned ad hoc SOWs, unpaid scope creep, inefficient briefing and ad approval processes, off-brief creative work, excessive rework, excessive resources for relationship and project management, abusive relationship behaviors, use of one-sided (and questionable) benchmarks and unnecessary agency churn.