Ask Me Anything – Oystercatchers Club @FoM opens the floor to CMOs

Have you ever wished for a no-holds barred conversation with marketing leaders?

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We set this up at our C-Suite session with agency chiefs at the Festival of Marketing. Chatham House Rules were in place. Here is just a taster of questions asked by our agency colleagues, and, honest insights gathered…

An agency’s biggest mistake

  • “I debate a lot with agencies on whether they believe the idea they’re so excited about will have broad appeal. It may work in London but maybe not across the UK.”
  •  “The importance of branding. Campaign without branding is entertainment. How do you understand the brand’s distinctive assets? Take Mr Kipling – the brand appears in the end frame, but has brand distinctive assets all way through.”
  • “Not listening to the real problem. Why are we doing this campaign? What is the real meaning?”
  • “Working with a roster who all want to have the big idea. Agencies need to be mindful that a big idea can come from anywhere and swallow their pride sometimes, even if they’re the lead agency.”
  • “For us everything is really connected. We need the agency to be quick and deliver value. We need to make sure content looks great, is unified, we need quantity as well.”
  • “The most important thing for me is for the digital agency to be commercially savvy. Articulate why digital makes sense for the brand. What’s the reach, what’s cost per reach, can I reach same number of people in a way that is just as effective?”

Are brands taking more creative in-house?

  • “I don’t believe in-housing for size of our company. Need to be wired very differently to be a creative person. Key driver of marketing effectiveness is creative quality. Focus on creative and production quality and spend money to get that.”
  • “Time is paramount and it’s difficult to work directly with a production agency.”
  • “It all depends on the quality of the person briefing and understanding of the brand. We’re bringing some capability in house – low level, organic, content driven. We’re not expert at the big stuff.”

Long term or short-term growth?

  • “In our minds it’s definitely more about long term, but in reality, it’s more about short term gain. We’re always looking at the brand in global terms. Where can we get the brands to into the future? Where are the new markets/the key markets?”
  • “We have a strong need to build a brand long term but have challenging commercial goals that need to be achieved. We feel the tension – if the brand doesn’t grow enough, we can’t continue to invest.”
  • “We’re in the ninth consecutive quarter of growth though brand-building. Trying to shift a lot to long-term. We see the results. The issue with short-term focus it that it can quickly get into downward spiral on the decline. Brand building very important to us. We not looking at producing too many campaigns, but a brilliant one that has longevity.”

Is relationship with retailers changed with the rise and rise of eCommerce?

  • “It’s equally as hard. We need to be more mindful of the path to purchase.  Test and learn around shopping occasions: can you construct a bundle for a kids’ party or for the person just bought cycle gear?  You couldn’t do this in a supermarket “
  • “Activation/experiential is very important. Brands dedicated to Gen Z want to engage more with the brand and what stands for.

 What does the boardroom job look like?

  • “At my company, the reason marketing been elevated to board level is because it has proven over the past four years to be the core driver of company growth. Every penny spent has to deliver now or in the future. All conversations must translate fluffy marketing language into business language.”


Oystercatchers accelerate commercial growth & ROI for all our clients through world class marketing transformation, leading- edge agency models and selection of world-class agency partners.