Marketers too busy managing agency partnerships to do their job: Nestlé

By Frank Chung | 12 August 2013
Nestlé director of corporate communications and marketing services David Morgan.

Nestlé marketing boss David Morgan says marketers can't do their jobs properly because they've become bogged down in "process management", coordinating an ever-increasing number of agency relationships. As a result, many have been unable to address the "transformational change" seen over the last five years.

Speaking at the ADMA Global Forum on Friday, Morgan highlighted mobile connectivity, emerging technologies and generational change as three key areas that “worried” him about the future of marketing. Many of these developments – smartphones, tablets and so on – were "predicted 50 years ago" by Star Trek, and yet "marketers haven't done much with this sort of stuff for the last two years".

Morgan said mobile connectivity was something marketers were "observing but not understanding". "We're very good at observing and recording this stuff, but what's the purpose? Are we using that data in a purposeful way? There's too much time spent literally watching," he said.

He pointed to 3D printing as an emerging technology that would "fundamentally change manufacturing", not in the future but "within two or three years", and on the issue of generational change, Morgan said Gen Zs "bamboozled" him. “They have fundamentally different values. They're not passionate about brands, they're non-commercial. How do you harness them?”

Morgan said the last five years had been “transformational” and we haven't stayed on top. “Why are we not on top of stuff? Why are we not leveraging data in a purposeful way? Why are we not on top of technology in a better way? Because too much of our marketing talent is getting stuck in the middle doing operational stuff that's been lumped on them, rather than actually doing what they're very, very talented at doing.

"We're getting stuck in the middle, stuck in operations, stuck in process management. We're spending so much time doing things that are not core to our trade of marketing, that it's taken up our ability to do our trade of marketing."

Morgan said back when he was a brand manager, he "only had one guy to call – it was a Monday morning call – and he could get everything done for you". "It was one agency, one brand, one communications channel. Today, our guys are managing eight, nine, 10 different agency groups – digital groups, media groups, creative groups, strategy groups. It takes up a lot of time to talk to them, coordinate them, project manage them.

"The Nielsen people, everyone in the room at the Nielsen conference was saying, 'How can we as a research company get much more involved and help understand your business and partner with you?' Guys, it takes up our time when you do that, when you partner with us. Do it for us, tell us what you do – don't expect us to do it with you."

Morgan said it was time to re-think the nature of agency relationships. “The old brand management model invented in the 1950s by Procter & Gamble is now 60 years old. The nature of our relationships with our agencies is 50 or 60 years old. The tools we're using are old. We're a progressive industry, we're a forward-thinking industry, we should be on the cutting edge, but actually some of our relationships and approaches are very out-of-date. I think it's time to ask, how do you put together a different federation to help us move forward?”

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