Taking the stage at AMA Puget Sound Market Mix

Last week our Chief Strategy Officer, John Drake, took the stage to speak about agency trends at the 2017 AMA Puget Sound Market Mix alongside Amanda Sapp, VP Planning at Edelman and Ted Leonhardt, former Chief Creative Officer for Fitch Worldwide. Through speaking with these three agency experts, we learned about how the modern consumer’s trust in brands has changed, the effectiveness of marketing and how modern agencies can collaborate more effectively.

First and foremost, we learned that there is a massive paradigm shift going on in the agency world. Now more than ever agencies, have to be keeping an eye towards the future and focus on sustainability and how the modern consumer engages with brands.

What follows is the discussion around three of the topics covered.

Do consumers still trust brands?

All of the panelists agreed that how brands win the loyalty and trust of the modern consumer are changing. Amanda Sapp summed this sentiment up well, “brand loyalty is no longer just about how cool a brand is, it’s about performance.” Having a relevant and strong brand still matters, but brands also have to pay attention to how their products are performing, customer service, public perceptions and take a more customer-centric approach. 

Brands that were previously considered unshakable or highly trustworthy in the past are now struggling to keep up. For example, Macy’s arguably made Christmas what it is today, but is quickly losing its relevance as the modern consumer starts to care more about how they identify with the brand and how products affect their lives. This is an opportunity for new brands to steal market share from larger, slower-to-react organizations.

Is marketing still effective?

This age old question has never been easier to answer. Yes, marketing is still an effective tool, and yes, your organization could greatly benefit from putting time and resources into marketing and advertising.

This is not to say advertising is everything, especially when product performance is a large factor in driving consumer loyalty. Ted Leonhardt illustrated this point by saying, “You can’t just make a product, package it up all pretty and advertise the hell out of it like Gillette does anymore.”

John Drake took it a step further by saying, “It’s easy to make something pretty, but it is hard to make it correct. Meaning, advertising is only effective when you know exactly what you are setting out to accomplish from the beginning. As advertisers, we have to have obvious conversations with the client, which is why at Drake Cooper we ask the client to rank order the metrics they want to achieve. This approach helps us make the work we do for our clients correct.”

How can modern agencies collaborate differently?

John Drake furthered this subject by explaining how agency client relationships used to work, “the old model was when a brand would work with an agency, they would come in with three designed ad options and tell the client to pick which one they wanted to run. Not very collaborative.”

John went on to explain how Drake Cooper has embraced a new model. “Now, we approach client-agency relationships differently. Collaboration is how you bring in expertise and work towards making it correct, which is why we involve our clients at every step of the process. We ask for feedback on our early rapid prototypes and make the process transparent so our clients can bring their expertise to the table. We can’t make our work correct without the client’s input; they are now extensions of our team.”

Amanda Sapp went on to say that alongside new collaborative agency client models we must also keep our minds open, that we should “collaborate with the IT team. There are creative juices everywhere within an agency and client team.” We should always be searching for input from experts on both the client side and within the agency.

Every year AMA Puget Sound brings marketing and advertising industry leaders together to learn from one another at Market Mix. We want to thank AMA Puget Sound for asking John Drake to speak the last two years and putting together such an incredible event. If you have not yet been to Market Mix be sure to keep your eyes peeled for event details next April. You can learn more about Market Mix here.