Feedback Loop: ‘The Pitch,’ Perry Ellis, Agency Conflicts

Each Friday we ask an industry leader to critique Digiday’s coverage of the industry that week. Chris Kuenne, CEO of Rosetta, does the honors.

The Insider’s View of “The Pitch”
Plenty of folks are using AMC’s “The Pitch” to debate the merits of how new business in our industry is won. To adequately review the show, the better question to me is what is our motivation to watch? Is it a show that we should study — or simply an escape to enjoy. If we’re supposed to learn how to pitch, then I’ll argue the show teaches terrible lessons.

CK: Exploring the proverbial question of art imitating life or the other way around, reality shows like “The Pitch” and the more dramatic “Mad Men” series give viewers a peek into our industry. These shows also give us a chance to examine what we do through a new lens.

What I always look for (as boring and Boy Scout-like as it is) is whether the approach we pitch to clients will actually achieve their business objectives, so it was with great satisfaction that I read Mat’s point of view. If we are to halt the commoditization of our industry and the promiscuity of clients who leap from idea to idea, we must return to the old days of seeking deep consumer insights and developing strategically focused briefs. These two tools are what unleash the magic of the creative process and enable our industry to transform brands and sometimes even entire companies and industries. If we do not return to this old-fashioned discipline, agencies will be relegated to the trash can (in this case, the noun form).

Perry Ellis Reboots E-Commerce Sites
Like many brands, e-commerce retailers can sometimes be a bit inward looking. Clothier Perry Ellis wants to break out of that trap by taking cues from emerging social commerce channels like Pinterest, Klout and others as it rethinks its e-commerce strategy for key Perry Ellis brands. 

CK: In our voyeuristic culture, the combined effects of social, mobile and commerce technology are opening up entirely new vistas for what the shopping and buying experience can be. We call it commerce plus. The big challenge for e-commerce retailers is not how to create a seamless consumer experience across platforms, devices and in-store, but it’s really about understanding their customer. With so many choices of where to reach consumers, it is easy to focus on the tactics to reach them without staying true to the process of uncovering deep behavioral insights first. That is what will reinforce brand equity and drive conversion, and for an industry obsessed with social media and “the new, new thing,” staying true to the fundamentals will be the ultimate “re-boot.”

Are Agency Executives on Startup Boards conflicted?
The worlds of venture capital, startups and agencies overlap necessarily. The companies in the tech industry that want to reshape media need expertise agencies have about the sector. They also need the budgets agencies control.

CK: Particularly as the digital, social and mobile ecosystems continue to expand and overlap, this is a tough question, but in my humble opinion, the answer can certainly be yes. If, however, advertising executives want the same professional respect accorded to lawyers, doctors and bankers, those who tread too close to the brink of this potentially slippery slope must clearly recuse themselves from situations in which they may appear to have a vested interest (personally or for their agency). It is of the utmost importance that partner selection by an agency on behalf of its clients must always be in the best interest of the client and any other interests must be disclosed.

Publishers: Facebook is your new Ad Role Model
Recent hiccups aside, it’s clear that Facebook has the fastest growth trajectory in the field when it comes to advertising. The question for the media is industry is what it can learn from Facebook’s success.

CK: In other words, “It’s about the data, stupid!” And for Marketers, Facebook’s use of data is the new role model. Now all we need are some standard metrics so performance can be comparable across publishers like CPM used to be. That is the Holy Grail worth searching for.

France Tourism Rethinks Focus Groups
When it comes to ad feedback, brands usually turn to focus groups. But increasingly they’re finding new ways to get feedback without the hassle and expense of gathering a group of strangers in a room.

CK: [This article] introduces marketers to an important research tool through a loyalty platform called EMiles (developed by one of the Godfather’s of loyalty marketing, Hal Brierley). In our experience, this tool is helpful for fast and inexpensive feedback on some marketing elements; however, if used incorrectly, it runs a big risk. Specifically, the EMiles respondent base (and the subset who elect to rate a specific ad) is not necessarily representative of the category and, unless specifically screened, is not the target for the proposition. Rigorously defining the right personality target for a given brand is the most important place to start.