Tuesday, 19 February 2013


We’re off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of ...


However, before we do, let us review something recently written by Marc

Ritson, Assistant Professor of Marketing at The London Business School.

"A pipe bursts in your house. When the local handyman arrives, he is carrying a

large toolbox. Without even looking at the pipe, he opens the box to reveal only

one tool: a hammer. He takes it out and brings it crashing down on the broken

pipe - for an hour. With the pipe destroyed, he asks for £100 and leaves.

This provides an accurate analogy for the state of the marketing

communications industry.

The fanfare that greeted the emergence of integrated marketing

communications in the early 90s has died away, leaving the industry

uncomfortably aware that it still represents a series of one-trick ponies.

Advertising agencies still espouse solutions that centre on advertising.

PR agencies always suggest PR; direct agencies suggest direct marketing and

so on.

Like our handyman, each fails to diagnose the problem correctly and opts to

solve all their clients' communications issues with one tool.

Ask WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell. He recently bemoaned the fact

that most agencies 'redefine every problem in terms of their proposed solution.'


As Sir Martin knows, different communications tools have different

strengths.This has two implications. First, a company must completely diagnose

the communications challenge before it assigns the communications tools to be

used in its strategy.

An integrated strategy that spreads its budget across a combination of PR,

direct marketing and events marketing is guaranteed to have a greater impact

than a campaign that opts to spend the total budget on just one of them.

The ideal model is obvious: a handyman with a variety of tools, who first

studies the problem, then selects a combination of tools to solve the


But this model has proved impossible to replicate in marketing

communications terms. Despite owning an impressive list of different

organisations that represent every major communications tools, WPP, for

example, has consistently failed to get its organisations to work together for

their clients' common good.

Turf wars, egos and a lack of common systems and understanding means

agencies will remain segregated. The only potential site of integration resides

on the demand side with the client. It is up to clients to diagnose their

problems, select and motivate these groups to work in a single strategic agenda.

Unfortunately, clients with these skills, power and confidence to achieve

this are thin on the ground. For now, integration will remain the Holy Grail of


In 1776, Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense, "We have it in our power to

begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present hath not

happened since the days of Noah until now. In that same year the American

Revolution and the building of that New World was underway.

On the threshold of a new millennium, Interactive Communication has given

us, the power to build a New World. But as in Thomas Paine's time, most have

yet to grasp how different the newly forming world will be from the world that

is passing. And many that are aware are afraid to embrace it, being so steeped

in the status quo. and used to working only with hammers!

In 2003, we stand wide-eyed at the portal of another New World. Some of us,

fearful of what is to be, look backward, pining for a simplicity that in reality

we probably never experienced. Others may be more like Dorothy who, after

being cyclonically blown away from the greyness of Kansas, suddenly found

herself standing in wide-eyed wonderment amid the colourful splendour and

magic of Oz.

We may be tentative as Dorothy was; not quite sure of the meaning of all we

see in this New World, but we are ready to move on. We want to see what the

Wizard of Interaction has in store for us.

There is plenty of evidence available to us now as to the Interactive Wonders

available to us right now.

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