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Pepsi, AMV and creatives at the top marketing table

24th February 2014


Grumble, grumble, moan, moan, whinge.

What’s that we hear? Could it be the whining of the PR creative director watching a big creative agency coming up with a content-led campaign that could so easily have come from our neck of the woods?

Well, yes. On this occasion it is.

When many moons ago I was asked to write this weekly column it was with a view to be wholesomely pleasant, unabashedly positive, wilfully and single-mindedly celebratory.

And to some degree, I felt all those things when I chanced upon this little film from Pepsi Max …

It’s kinda lovely, isn’t it? Unbelievable is the name of the campaign – a content-led number from AMV in which they are going to populate a new YouTube channel with (generally young, for it is for Pepsi Max after all) people doing “unbelievable” things. This is their first effort.

So why the mumbling, muttering and moaning you may ask?

It’s because the work came from a big creative agency not from the land of PR. All the usual sub-whines then apply: why does a marketing director give a creative agency a content brief (or buy a content-led campaign) with big budgets when PRs are (in general) asked to come up with content on a shoestring (and we are)? Why don’t these sorts of ideas get signed off or supported when they come from PR agencies?

Why, in other words, don’t we sit at the top table when it comes to creative when our cousins in ad-land are coming up with campaigns that might not deliver (because they could fall flat and never be seen), the brand messages as clearly as a 30 second spot (because they are entertainment-led)?

It is because no-one in our corner of the industry has been putting up concerted fights to get to the top creative table at big brands when it comes to creative development, campaign budget allocation and creative leadership.

Instead, the grey hairs and pinstripe suit brigade have been fighting a battle to get onto the board and advise CEOs and FDs – a battle that, in so many cases has been won as CEOs have had to realise that customer and media sentiment is as great a determinant of reputation as share price and margin (see most of the big energy firms for example).

I think that, rather than preserving this debate for that once-a-year hand-wringing as another ad agency bags the Cannes PR Lion, it should become something that the creative brand people in the PR business start talking about year-round.

Not because ad agencies are going to move into our patch and take-over PR. They aren’t. They don’t get it and the risks inherent in any content or editorial-led campaign are too much for anyone to bet their entire marketing budget on each year.

But rather because marketing directors are starting to understand the value of content, of brand actions that generate talkability and of the risk-taking required to pull these activities off.

There’s an opportunity out there for us to do bigger, better work for our clients. And that’s a reason good enough for me to make the issue something worth shouting about all year.

James Gordon-MacIntosh is a managing partner at 
Hope&Glory PR. He’s idly contemplating an update to his book, PR Ideas of the Year.



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