Someone onceÂ said that there has never been aÂ time or placeÂ in which you couldn’t start a speech with that corny old line.Â Everyone, everywhere, always, thinks it’s true.
Personally, I can’t prove that the levels of change we’re experiencing in the financial world are indeed “unprecedented,” but they certainly haven’t been precedented often.Â And from our point of view in the agency, a bloody good thing too.
People imagine that our kind of work – advertising, branding, design, direct marketing – is basically about helping organisations to sell things to people, and therefore that we’re likely to thrive when there is lots of selling going on and struggle when there isn’t.
That’s half-true:Â as I’ve said more than once in this blog there are quite a few fair-weather advertisers and direct marketers in financial services who tend to pull the plug on their budgets at the first sign of a change in the weather.Â (How many mortgage ads have you seen lately?)
But the other half of our business (and actually IÂ reckon it’s more than half) has nothing to do with selling anything to anyone,Â and is all about helping organisations deal with change.Â
The most obvious examples are to do with mergers and acquisitions.Â We’ve just done a brilliant job, working with a brilliant client, on the launch of a new brand in the offshore life market, Royal London 360.Â Having bought Scottish Provident International and mergedÂ the businessÂ into their ownÂ Scottish Life International, the parentÂ company was obliged to change most of the marketing and communication material – adopting a single name, rewriting the busines’s corporate credentials, changing the website and the marketing literature, putting new signs outside the offices and so on:Â Â wisely choosing to make a virtue out of necessity, the firm decided to add in the marginal extra cost of doing something new and exciting rather than just restructuring elements of what they’d already got.Â
Many other kinds of change – some obviouslyÂ sensible, others rather less so – also lead to work for agencies like ours.Â Even negative change has its implications:Â if aÂ client wants to withdraw a number of products from the market, there’s a need to adjust the website and the range brochure, and maybe communicate with customers and advisers.Â And then of course there is the troublingly large category of change which is actually to do with people’s egos and personal feelings:Â theÂ first instinct of the huge majority of newly-appointed Â client-side marketing and advertising directors is to get rid of their predecessors’ agencies and campaigns, and replace them with new people and new work which they have ownership of.
In the financial world, with pretty much the sole exception of the companies selling motor and home insurance direct, sales-oriented marketing and communication have pretty much come to a complete standstill.Â But athough our business isn’t in great shape, we’re still quite busy working for our current clients and pitching for new ones.Â At the moment, that’s really entirely because of the consequences arising from that period of unprecedented change.Â Â Long may it continue.