June 16, 2010

A CMO I Can Love

It's rare that I read something in a trade publication written by a cmo that isn't a cliche-riddled jargon fest.

This week, however, I read a brief interview with Rick Bendel who is international chief marketing officer for Walmart in AdAge. In spite of his alarming title, he had some intelligent things to say that echo a post I wrote almost a year ago called "The Laziness of Global Advertisers (Parts 1 and 2.)" Rick says:
Retail is an incredibly local business and a shop's franchise is based around people's experiences. We are protective of the fact that our business has been built up locally. ... I don't believe that working with a single global agency would give value. ... It's lazy to copy.
Here's what I said in my post. 
... the closer you are to the customer, the better sense of reality you have. This is not to say that everyone "in the field" is a genius and that everyone at "headquarters" is an idiot...
But if you take two people with equal ability... the one who deals with customers everyday is far more likely to have an accurate idea of what the marketing issues are than the one who sits in meetings.
And yet, in the world of global advertising and global marketing, there seems to be an irresistible gravitational pull drawing advertising and marketing decisions to the central office...
We now have "global" CMOs in New York deciding what advertising will run in Argentina. We have global creative directors in London "adapting" campaigns for Korea...
...why do marketers do this?
...They are too lazy to deal with the messiness of finding the right people on the ground all over the world. It's much easier to just hire a "global" agency and let them worry about it. So they suspend disbelief and buy into the fiction (which creates gales of laughter in anyone who has ever worked at a global agency) about the "integrated worldwide capabilities" of these agencies.

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