Tuesday, May 10, 2011
8779: Can Procurement Cure Exclusivity?
Advertising Age presented a story featuring a roundtable of executives at the ANA Advertising Financial Management Conference discussing the topic of procurement. The trade publication added a second story on the same subject that spotlighted ANA speakers P&G VP-Global Product Supply and Global Brand-Building Purchases Stew Atkinson and Omnicom President-CEO John Wren.
Advertising firms—as well as sympathizers like Ad Age—seem quick to paint client-side procurement people as clueless vermin intent on reducing quality, hurting morale and sucking the fun out of our business. Yet the agency and network bean counters are equally awful, and potentially worse, given that their positions should make them acutely aware of their coworkers’ needs. Instead, agency accountants have successfully established that billable hours trump big ideas, and good enough is the new gold standard when quarterly profits are on the line.
The money managers of Madison Avenue have definitely gained power over the years, as evidenced by Adweek’s Top Ten Earners in Advertising, a Boys Club including three CFOs. Why, it’s only a matter of time before special Cannes Lions and One Show Pencils are introduced to honor outstanding achievements in fiscal responsibility.
Imagine if procurement focused on inspiring social change versus pocket change. For starters, agency compensation could be tied to meeting diversity requirements. Given clients’ recognition of increased U.S. multiculturalism, it would actually make sense from a business perspective to insist that Madison Avenue mirror the consumers being targeted. Agencies that cling to cronyism, nepotism and other assorted isms should face budget cuts—or simply get cut altogether.
Promises from professionals haven’t produced progress. So let procurement cure exclusivity.