Kraft Foods, A Clients Perspective On Ad Agency Positioning

Dana Anderson

Yesterday I spent an hour with one of the smartest strategic minds, if not the smartest in the advertising and marketing world. (Dana Anderson, SVP Marketing Strategy at Kraft Foods) She shared with me some great advice from a client’s perspective about differentiating and positioning an ad-agency. Here’s what she had to say…

For those of you who do not know Dana, I can tell you that she has had a long and illustrious career in the advertising agency world. She has spent many years at agencies like DDB and most recently as President of FCB Chicago. Her past agency experience combined with her current responsibilities on the client side, provide her with a very unique perspective on the agency business.

She said to me, “there are things I did when I was on the agency side that, knowing what I know now, I cannot believe I said and did.” The problem is most agency people continue today to say and do many of those same things.

I would like to share with you a few of the insights she shared with me:

  • Generic statements like: “We are an agency that connects the left and the right brain” do nothing to help you differentiate your agency. Claiming to combine the use of data and analytics with attitudinal research and great creative is table stakes. Every digital agency currently claims to deliver this. Its core to Digitas’s positioning and from a brand agency perspective, Draft/FCB staked this claim a while ago.
  • Positioning your agency as media neutral with a 360 degree approach is just as passé’: Claims like this only serve to help roll the client’s eyes to the back of their heads and sigh in disbelief.
  • Rhetoric that positions the agency as full service and able to deliver an integrated solution, no matter the channel or media is just not believable. There is not a client out there who has not been disappointed by an agency claiming to do it all and do it well. It’s just not possible and there is not an agency out there that can live up to these claims. Claims like this just serve to undermine everything you say.
  • Agency’s that come in claiming that they have a proprietary process that… “Starts with a deep dive into the target consumer, is then combined with a competitive and category audit which then leads to”, is just not going to cut it. Every agency has the same process that claims the same thing and at the end of the day it’s enough to make a client throw up.

What Dana suggests is that every agency takes a very serious look at what it is they really do well. Why do they do it well and what is different about the way they do it. Start with a strong perspective on what the agency stands for. Do your homework and use research (either primary or secondary) to support your approach.

Include both quantitative and qualitative research to help prove out and support the basis for your approach. Once that’s complete, then develop your process and go to market strategy based on the insights and information you have defined. Dana quoted an excellent example as being a small agency called “Energy Infuser, A Kay Allison Company”




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