Agencies need to stop ignoring procurement as its influence continues to grow in marketing

David Angell

David Angell

Agencies need become better at handling procurement people and stop ignoring them during the pitch process as its role in the marketing mix will continue to grow, a panel of experts has warned.

Speaking at the Secrets of Agency Excellence conference David Angell, general manager and head of media at Trinity P3, said he had been in pitch meetings attended by procurement where they had been completely ignored by agency staff, an approach which needlessly damaged the relationship from the very beginning, and urged agencies to “include them in the chemistry session”.

John Turner, marketing practice director at Infosys Portland added agencies need to remember “procurement people are people too”.

The role of procurement in marketing has been a bone of contention with advertising agencies which fear the “bean counter” approach to purchasing marketing services is damaging the relationship between marketers and hindering brands.

One of the most vexing issues for both agencies and procurement departments was the reliance on the measure of time – using rate cards and head hours as measure for agency remuneration when it came to procurement departments, an issue which is far from being solved.


Jason Penrose

“There is an appetite for something different, but I don’t think someone has actually defined what that is or what that looks like going forward,” said Jason Penrose, executive commercial manager – marketing, media, digital and customer experience with Westpac Group.

He said the business of procurement had moved on from “men in brown suits” to a more holistic approach acting as a support function in the space.

“Like it or not, there is undoubtedly going to be an increasing role from procurement,” said Penrose.

However, the panel, which also included David Angell, general manager and head of media at Trinity P3, and John Turner, marketing practice director at Infosys Portland, agreed one of the simplest solutions to the issue was dialogue and education.

Penrose said the need to educate procurement about the role and opportunities of working with marketing and with agencies was a key to building a better experience and a better outcome for all involved.

Agencies also needed to understand that procurement should not just be involved in the process at the beginning, overseeing the purchase function, but should remain a part of the process throughout the life of the relationship so they could gain a better understanding of the business and become part of a value chain that was not focused on lowest cost, but outcomes.

“They are not just looking at cost, they are assessing risk, so more agencies need to come across as being low risk,” said David Angell.

He said by ticking simple boxes on the procurement worksheet, such as risk, it allowed the agencies and procurement departments to focus on the bigger picture.

Penrose said there were real opportunities for agencies which “get it right”.

John Turner, marketing practice director at Infosys Portland said that in a dry business often engaged with purchasing hardware and big ticket items, procurement experts were wanting to work with marketers on something they saw as more invigorating and interesting.

“Wherever a company is spending money the guys in my office are wanting to work on marketing. Procurement people are curious about marketing and they do want to get more understanding of it,” said Turner.

Simon Canning


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.