Coming together doesn’t mean playing nicely

Wavemaker chief product and growth officer James Hier
By Wavemaker chief product and growth officer James Hier | 11 October 2018
James Hier

Three years ago, Forbes declared collaboration the new competitive advantage – it’s in our agency values (and a few others too, I think). This idea was top of mind for me when I interviewed Louise Eyres, the first-ever CMO of the Australian Sports Commission, for the final episode of this year's Marketing Dividends.

Eyres has pulled off a Christmas miracle, by bringing together the marketing chiefs of 12 competing sporting codes in what she described as “a Marketing 12 version of the G8”, with the aim of presenting a united message to get all Australians moving.

She may have been close to the mark with that comparison given that the different codes are generally at war with each other for eyeballs, participants and sponsors. It’s a great experiment to see if these fierce competitors on the field can actually work off the field to get Australia moving again.

While she met with some initial resistance in bringing together the “Marketing 12”, Eyre said the deciding factor was recognition that “we need to grow the pie to all benefit”. For the sporting bodies, all boats will rise on the tide of “the world’s most active nation” – the ASC’s goal.

And that is really the point with all of these types of initiatives; there has to be an incentive or a burning platform that binds these parties together. We’ve seen it work successfully with local TV networks and Foxtel banding together with ThinkTV, with The Benchmarks Series helping clients and agencies to reassess the contribution of TV.

The urgency of the marketing industry coming together was recently highlighted at the AANA 2018 RESET conference by Megan Clarken, global president watch at Nielsen.

As Clarken outlined, marketers are unable to verify, measure and account for their digital investment and the only way for this to happen is for the “walled gardens” to allow third parties in. Now, whether or not this is achievable given the nature of those parties, marketers have failed to come together and play hardball against Facebook, Google, Amazon et al as a unified body by withholding their investment.

With no investment pressure at critical mass from marketers, there will never be the opportunity to drive that change. This is exacerbated by marketers who take advantage of any suspension of spend by negotiating better deals for themselves. We’re like children still grasping the concept of delayed gratification – opting for the quick sugar rush over longer-term benefit.

It’s early days for the Australian Sports Commission and the Marketing 12, and I’ll be watching closely to see if their collaborative efforts start to get Australians off the couch for the good of all sporting bodies…or whether it takes its lead from the G8 (now the G7) and becomes the Marketing 11…10.

Either way, their aim is to achieve the long-term health of their industry… something we need to aim for in ours.

James Hier is chief growth and product officer at Wavemaker

comments powered by Disqus