Working And Winning Together
5:30 p.m. on a Tuesday. Most people are counting down the minutes to go home. For new-biz execs like me, it’s more like the middle of the day. I sit in the new-biz war room at Grey advertising during one of the biggest pitches of the year. I’m joined by a crew that only a couple years prior would have been atypical. In a room adorned with photographs of advertising legends like Larry Valenstein and Arthur Fatt are executives whose backgrounds and ethnicities are very different than the legends that came before them.
The room’s make-up is two African Americans, two Italian Americans, one Argentine, and a half-Dutch, half-Canadian, whom we lovingly call “El Gringo Latino.” The reason we sat together that afternoon was because after a long pitch process, it was vital for the client to understand how both the general market and Hispanic market agencies would work together on a strategic, creative, production, and management level. How we would work together was one of the determining factors between winning and losing the pitch.
In the contemporary advertising environment that calls for maximum efficiencies and the need to communicate to vital constituencies like the Hispanic market in a relevant way, the scene from last Tuesday will become more and more common. And how well Hispanic and general market agencies partner with one another can make the difference between good marketing and coming up short. Here are a few of Wing’s best practices for a successful partnership.
The first fundamental: all parties must work together to create an account structure that keeps client agency communications streamlined by having one central point of contact who understands the total market communications strategy. There should also be a Hispanic market point of contact who can advise when questions on the Hispanic market arise. Once this structure is set, timelines must be created in collaboration so that all parties have enough time to understand what the other is trying to accomplish in their communications and alter their messaging accordingly. For example, setting up weekly status meetings between the client, and both the general market and Hispanic market agencies allows for clear and open communication. This makes the client feel comfortable about working with more than one agency and establishing efficiencies.
Each market may interact with a brand uniquely and it is important for those in charge of strategy to understand the existence of these differences from the beginning. Uncovering these insights should be done collaboratively by planning and executing joint research. Consequently, a total market communications brief should be developed which gives overall understanding of the current state of the brand, with different objectives to match the needs of each market. For instance, a recent campaign brief from a beauty brand stated that all agencies must communicate “a natural look” as the main product benefit. The general market strategy promoted that the makeup gave the appearance of being natural/clean. In order to be relevant to the Hispanic market, we adjusted our strategy to reflect the insight that Latinas believe looking natural means wearing all the makeup you are entitled to.
Objectives for each market will be different as each market interacts with a brand uniquely. While the brand as a whole should have an overarching tone, a brand’s creative messaging should account for these differences with unique insight for each market. This demonstrates that the advertising was created specifically with the target in mind and is not simply an adaptation of messaging. For example, we recently completed a campaign for an alcoholic beverage client. Research uncovered that the barrier to Hispanic consumers was awareness, while the general market had more of a brand perception issue. Although these issues need to be communicated differently, we were able to maintain consistency by establishing a brand tone from the onset of the campaign. Having this consistency allows consumers to understand the personality of the brand regardless of which communication reaches them.
Production integration between agencies is where clients will see the most immediate ROI. Collaboration between these departments must be done from the onset and throughout the communications process as major cost efficiencies are feasible. When possible, co-productions should be planned or at the very least each department should see how they can piggy back off the other’s production. Additionally, a system must be put in place where all parties can place and find common assets. For a fabric softener brand, we worked together with the general market agency to find talent that works for both markets and simply shot an additional scene or two to increase relevance to everyone.
As marketers we must understand that media fragmentation equals an onslaught of communications to our target. To remain memorable and effective to them, there must be some form of consistency within executions. Or else, the brand lacks a consistent personality. The only way clients can be effective is for them to have a total market communications plan, and an agency (or agencies) who can work collaboratively. It’s our job as marketers to educate the brand on what’s necessary for success.