Where is your critical friend? Even global brands need one…

A good note here from James Procter on the recent Pepsi commercial fiasco from the creative perspective and, as James says, there is enough commentary out there on why the ad failed…  So, I want to comment from the viewpoint of having delivered and implemented strategies with skilled and experienced marketers for over 20 years…

An effective marketing team is made up of a number of people each with a role to play. They will have a specific reason for being and they will bring with them different specialisms, skill sets, experiences, successes and failures from their career. They will also bring a variety of perspectives and, working together, they should be each other’s critical friends.

So what of the external agency? If your internal marketing team is that shit hot, why do you need outside services/ expertise?

Well, Pepsi is sadly the proof in the pudding… There’s always room for external expertise, if only to provide an objective point of view. With a tight internal team, there is the risk of everyone sharing the same hymn sheet so closely that they all miss the same verse and no one notices, because – well, the harmonies were spot on in the chorus!

Having an external agency, whether marketing to support or challenge your strategic direction; PR to tell you what’s newsworthy and what’s really not or creative to make sure you’re in the marketing and design media for the right reasons, means you have someone watching your back. They review your data, use your messages, know your objectives and understand your target audience. They have their ear to the societal ground and they make sure you don’t miss the mark.

It’s rare that a global brand makes this glaring an error as there is usually an external expert somewhere along the line being paid to stick their neck out, ask the challenging questions or say ‘no’! But thank you to Pepsi for doing it so publicly. Hopefully other brands will not make the same mistake in believing their marketing team is infallible and in a world where influence is power – that their team needs no external perspective.


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