When I pulled back the curtains this morning, I was reminded of a lyric from a rather lovely song entitled “Beautiful”, from Marillion’s excellent “Afraid of Sunlight” album:
“The leaves turn from green to red to brown
They fall to the ground and get kicked around”
Now, given we’re well into Autumn, you might think that’s an unremarkable observation. But when Steve Hogarth penned it, he was probably thinking not just about falling leaves, but also falling temperatures and the onset of a long, cold winter.
It’s the time of year when falling spending also starts to bite, not just in Westminster, but also in Marketing Departments up and down the country as beleaguered advertisers tackle the annual issue of cutting spend without seeing falling sales or brand value.
And this has a significant effect on the mood inside our multinational advertising agencies, as they juggle with the inevitability of budgets going south, whilst client demands go north. Which triggers a cycle of retrenchment – and ring-fencing of areas which have, traditionally, represented buffers against the spectre of falling billings.
Production is such an area – a mystical area full of nooks & crannies and smoke & mirrors. A complicated, time consuming area, resource-heavy and revenue-rich. Particularly where international advertising campaigns are involved. An opaque area which represents an opportunity to claw back some of those falling budgets not just in the hub office, but also across the international network.
But it’s also an area which often escapes the scrutiny of the overworked Marketing manager, or even the more knowledgeable Procurement guy. Because Production has to be done and the campaign has to be implemented. So the agency might as well do it. So sign the estimate.
Throwing Dollar bills out of a top floor window looks very much like Autumn’s falling leaves from a distance. Which is why Autumn is a good time to take a Marketing Healthcheck and focus on all the component parts which make up the annual advertising budget.
In the same song, Steve Hogarth wrote:
“Don’t have to be the same…
Don’t have to be this way”
In the unlikely event he was thinking about unnecessary Production costs, how right he was…..