Working vs. Non-Working Budgets: Please Work Them Out of Your Vocabulary


A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away there existed a simple marketing world. Creative agencies created advertising, the media department and the media agency devised a media plan (read; TV plan with some ornamental other media), consumers saw said TV campaign and flocked to stores and bought the brand or service. If they weren’t buying, then at the very least were they improving their perception of the brand or service, as driven by those witty TV ads.

The creative department lead the media department (briefing: “buy as much TV in prime time as the budget allows after creative development and production”), clients flocked to exotic locales like New York or LA (if you were a European based advertiser), the Caribbean or Hawaii (if you were a US based advertiser) to shoot THE COMMERCIAL. Once a year all senior agency leadership (minus the media director) would descend onto Cannes to bask in each other’s glory at the Cannes Ad Festival where TV ads were celebrated.

Fast forward to today:
• Most ads (or should we say “content”?) are not developed for TV.
• Media leads creative in terms of where the ads are going to appear.
• Consumer insights and data determine the touch points based on effectiveness.
• Clients are no longer allowed to travel to exotic locales.
• Cannes is desperately trying to hold on to the creative celebration it once was, but is steadily evolving in a tech show (like a CES for marketing tech, mostly taking place on a boat).

It is, of course, not as bad as all that, only it really is.

When we talk to clients, they are today tasked with developing vast amounts of content to feed the beast that is their social media presence, as well as all all other touch points (ranging from traditional media to CRM, email, store, shelf or website). The nature of these touch points is that many need a refresh almost every day, not every three to six months, like TV in the olden days.

This means you need a very different creative development and delivery machine. Especially so, since a lot of the content is created in a large number of variations, to be tested for effectiveness in a continuous race to brand and/or sales impact, measured in real time.

In this world, we are having conversations with marketing and marketing procurement departments about the kind of ecosystem(s) that can deliver all of that at a cost that is manageable, measured in a way that is meaningful, and compensated on the basis of effectiveness and ROI.

In our discussions, we never really talk about working vs. non-working budgets anymore, and we are telling our clients they should forget about this equation. What we are not saying is that it isn’t important to see how much you are spending on creating, managing and delivering your message content. But using working vs. non-working is an outdated metric. You would not look at TV spend alone only to determine the effectiveness of your total marketing campaign, now would you? That is so last century…

As you rethink your ecosystem, and the process and teams that drive it, it is important to establish new metrics for effectiveness and to understand, track and measure the total cost of the ecosystem from creation to deployment to follow-through versus the benefits, delivery and impact (on sales and/or brand health metrics).

We have many great cases that demonstrate how other clients have done this with our help. Go on: spend some non-working dollars on us and we will gladly help you, too!

For more information, fill out the form below and we will be in touch!

Leave a Comment