The marketing supply chain has lost its integrity

In a world where everyone's out for themselves, Anne Miles is calling for a little bit of integrity to be injected back into the ad industry.

There are countless numbers of accusations in the industry about a lack of transparency. Sadly, the model doesn’t change to prevent it continuing. This issue begins in strategy and ends in production and asset delivery.

I’ve really struggled with the integrity of an industry that makes a profit from selling recommendations that are based on services they do, which often breeds a situation where a client is sold what they don’t really need.

It’s time for all levels of the creative and brand chain to put the integrity back in the industry.

Recent statistics in research conducted by Ebiquity shows the industry is not spending its budget in the most effective channels and suggests that there is a really big problem of integrity – the industry is selling what they do and not what the client needs.

Strategy with integrity

This misfire in marketing spend means the strategic thinking is biased. Like unconscious bias for diversity, the same thing is inherent in the current industry model.

Many businesses are well-meaning because they are simply doing what they have always done. They’re working like the broader industry always has, and they often think that what they do is a great solution for a business, because they actually don’t know any better, and often are not experienced outside their own four walls.

Operating like we always have is not a validation that it’s the right thing to do.

The major strategic foundations of a business can’t ethically be created by the same people that have a vested interest in the outcome.

This means often that the supplier or agency that has the loudest voice, the strongest personal relationships, or the most compelling argument is the one that wins – and that may not actually be what is right for that brand.

Creative execution

I know for a fact that many individuals in the industry often think that they are doing work or producing content that their client doesn’t actually need or that it won’t likely work, but feel powerless to do anything about it.

No one is willing to put their hand up and stop the moving train, because the train is feeding their supply chain and their staple income.

If you can take away the need to earn from any particular solution, you then start to get genuine, authentic, and proven solutions for that client.

At the moment, agencies make money from not being efficient. And they make money from making recommendations that align with what they do.

Production and execution

Think about the production houses that are out there, too. Most of them are selling a fixed roster, and delivering work that delivers on the director’s brand.

Like the agency selling what they do, the same issue transferred down the line with the production companies and post houses equally; and with the layers of margin and overheads stacked at each level.

At the moment, the production houses make their profit by increasing the production budgets as high as they can push it. There is no incentive to produce the work for the most cost effective approach, other than the in-built fear of missing out on the job.

On the client side, I heard the words ‘All the good directors are using them’ as a viable reason to use the most expensive providers. That’s just code for using the most trendy and cool people, and not necessarily what the project actually needs.

I’d rather see a situation where the production solutions are determined as best fit for the brief with no vested interest in any solution, any director/photographer, or using any particular supplier in the end to end production process.

Only then can it be completely independent and operating with the highest integrity.

Yes, sometimes brands ask for the work that agencies provide and there is no question or challenge about whether that’s what they really need for fear of losing work. So, brands need to take responsibility for this too. Independence supports them in this process too as the strategy and biggest ideas are developed without fear of losing the whole business.

My dream is to collectively pull the best people together for the right brief, produce the work that is actually needed for that client, deliver with 100% focus on the strategy, meet the right tonality for the customer, and be sure we actually know who that customer actually is.

I want all the businesses that support the creative community to survive and thrive. But only the ones that work with integrity, thanks.

Anne Miles is managing director and global executive producer of International Creative Services. This piece is an abridged version of this article.


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.