Marketing efficiency

De-coupling De-mystified

How the de-coupling industry has developed in recent years and how the world of advertising is positioned for further changes in the future.

If you live in the UK and are old enough to remember Marathon or Dime chocolate bars, Opal Fruit sweets, Jif cleaner, The Abbey National building society and Oil of Ulay cosmetics, you experienced a bygone age when brands and their advertising campaigns could be targeted at individual countries.

Today, most brands aim for global (or at least multi-territory) consistency in their marketing communications, using the same brand and the same campaigns. It’s a Snickers not a Marathon. This may seem like a relatively small shift in approach, but globalisation of marketing has led to a profound change in how marketing materials are produced and who produces them. Using the industry jargon, production has now been de-coupled from the creative process.

The old days

When you needed to supply one television commercial a year and some newspaper advertising, there was little focus on how these were produced. It was simply part of the creative agency job to deliver the final materials. About 15 years ago, specialist production companies began to emerge. Many had grown while working alongside creative agencies. Typically, these companies were proficient in a particular discipline, like reprographics or video production. The smarter ones recognised how there was a lot of wasted effort in producing campaigns individually for each target market.

Fast forward about five years and a number of companies began offering production services directly to clients with the pitch that this would allow centralised management, deliver brand consistency and show measurable efficiency. One key area was being able to offer language services that were not only good enough to avoid any criticism from a local market but would also ensure that any asset could be produced for international markets. The age of the ‘implementation agency’ was born.

The growth of global campaigns

Today there are few companies that only want to target a single market. This means that the ‘implementation’ phase provides a vital foundation upon which to build a campaign that resonates across multiple markets. Across every sector, companies are becoming more global and more familiar to anyone travelling around the world. This globalisation was a key factor in driving growth of the ‘implementation’ agencies. Clients began to see real efficiencies in the cost of deploying a campaign globally, with the additional benefit of being able to see what assets had been deployed and a central database of translation that could be reused.

Global ‘day and date’ launches

Another driver for efficient process is the increasing use of global ‘day and date’ launches. The traditional practice for launch was to use a phased approach – for example, Star Wars launched in LA on the 25th May 1977. It arrived in the UK on the 29 January 1978. Japan had to wait until 30th June that year, over a year after the initial US release. One of the reasons was technology – film reels had to be physically moved between markets and different territories – but it also suited media companies to roll-out products at their own pace. Today many companies use a Netflix-style approach, with audiences now expecting to be able to access every episode of a series at the same time anywhere in the world. The same approach applies to music, video games, fashion, new product launches, app launches, etc. For marketers, a global ‘day and date’ approach requires all supporting materials to be ready, in every language, at the precise moment of launch … which requires specialist skills to manage that level of complexity and range of assets required.

Creating campaigns that are always-on

Today we’re seeing a further development in the relationship between clients, creative agencies and implementation agencies. Driven by the need to make a campaign ‘always on’, the previous differentiation between production and creative processes is starting to erode even further. As a campaign can now be delivered dynamically, based on the demographics and browsing history of a webpage visitor, it means there isn’t a gap between developing and deploying a campaign. It is now instant. The result is a further shift toward delivery away from pure creative. In other media such as outdoor and experiential campaigns, the requirements can be more intricate than ever, requiring a wide range of skills to bring events and installations to life that reflect the brand ethos.

De-coupling re-launched

Sir Martin Sorrell’s detailed review of the marketing landscape as part of the launch of his new investment vehicle S4C highlighted his view that the critical function in today’s market is to provide data-driven production services with global reach. This is a striking shift from Sir Martin towards production rather than creative, particularly as he was leading WPP in May 2000 when the company paid $4.7bn to acquire the creative agency Y&R. In November 2018, Y&R was ‘merged’ with another WPP agency to create VMLY&R. WPP describes the move as a ‘merger’ but it is remarkable that a company valued at $4.7bn only 18 years ago was no longer seen as viable as a standalone entity. Sir Martin’s ‘Damascene conversion’ to the benefits of agile production and implementation is clearly reflective of the requirements of clients and the very different structure of a dynamic marketing environment. It reflects the strategic importance of being able to deploy assets on a global basis in an efficient and timely manner.

Splash’s role and positioning for a dynamic future

At Splash, we have always built our business around the crossroads of technology, creativity and production. Long before others began to focus on the space, we have been developing a range of tools and processes that enable clients to deliver global launches and international roll-outs; to automate processes so that content can be delivered at scale; to provide tools allowing local in-store marketers to create their own posters that retain the brand guidelines; and to deliver creative that thrives in digital-only environments. We believe that this range of highly practical, user-friendly and flexible services is the best way to help clients navigate a complex mix of marketing channels and a changing landscape.

To continue to support our clients as the industry develops further, Splash is actively investing in new technologies that can allow dynamic delivery of assets in any local language, as well as the consistent delivery of assets into any media environment (ranging from video to in-store digital POS) and mixed reality environments and other emerging areas.

Get in touch to find out how we can help market your global campaign –