If you can’t see the elephant in the room, you can certainly smell it.

Our MD, Anne Parsons writes about the power of Partnership Marketing

The big advertising networks have presided over decades of change – often bravely driven by them and at other times, cleverly responded to through them.

It started with the separation of Media from Creative, then it moved through exciting phases of acquisition, digital development, technology and then more and more acquisition –  all of this to the essential background of meeting profit margins and returning shareholder value.

Well it worked. Well it worked….until….the massive advertising groups that were created through acquisition were more about profit and clever software than about people and performance. The profit levels enjoyed and the returns being registered were unfortunately dependent on technology to drive efficiencies that stopped considering the result in terms of client advantage.

The stuff that made advertising great, like smart people, brilliant ideas, committed teams, internal tensions and healthy debates, were to some extent passed over for a programmatic response that guaranteed cost efficiency. This claim to fame was seen to be important as it helped address the issue of reducing budgets and declining audiences. But this came at the expense of positive relationships and trust. It is now less about the essential people in a room to decide the best course of action for the business and the brand and more about the algorithm and what it will yield.

The smart players, Agency and Advertisers, are recognising that what is desperately needed is a dose of good old fashioned communication to get things back on track. The notion of having all of the experts involved in one collaborative team working with and on behalf of the brand to determine the best approach to deliver the objectives. Simple, straightforward but incredibly effective. Can you see that elephant? Conversations have started in earnest about the reunion of media and creative as a way of getting a better result. Can you smell that elephant now?

A viable concept for the future is one that relies on the proven success of the past. It is a return to the principle of teams of experts whose arguments are well articulated, using relevant facts for validation and all focussed on delivering agreed objectives. This translates to human interaction to achieve an outcome that may well otherwise have been missed or misdirected. And what I have just described is Partnership Marketing. The opportunity for one brand to achieve it’s objectives by aligning values, message and goals with another brand, in order to achieve something more impactful or engaging than would be possible on their own or through more traditional and costly channels.

Partnership Marketing, whilst not new, is nevertheless a facet of Marketing still in its early growth stage. It naturally developed as an alternative to communicating through conventional media channels and managed to establish itself before Agencies identified the broader remit of a brand’s content being either paid, owned or earned. Partnership Marketing could well be any or all of these things, but whilst we have a deep understanding of technological solutions, Partnership Marketing is most definitely not the result of a piece of software or a complex mathematical equation telling you what the answer is.

The brilliance of Partnership Marketing is its pure simplicity: the coming together of two or more aligned brands to achieve a mutual outcome based on shared objectives, assets and commitment. It can be delivered using their own channels as the communication, their own customers as the audience and their own results as the benchmark. In a world gone crazy for anagrams and formulae, Partnership Marketing is about working in partnership to achieve common goals. It is what it says on the tin. It requires human interaction, relationships and trust. In the world of Partnerships an elephant in the room would be just that – an elephant in the room and only because it was a good representation of the brands’ story.

by Anne Parsons

Anne Parsons, Managing Director, Cherry London
First woman inducted into the Media Hall of Fame for Melbourne Media 2016 and  Media Federation 2017