Marc Pritchard’s call to action on media transparency | M&M Global

Marc Pritchard’s call to action on media transparency

The winds of change were blowing hot in Orlando as the world’s most influential marketer called on all advertisers to ‘make the commitment now to come together’, says Tom Denford, chief strategy officer at ID Comms.

Tom Denford, ID Comms
Tom Denford, ID Comms

If you thought he wasn’t serious you were wrong. If you thought the IAB speech was an isolated incident of an irritated marketer niggling at a complex industry, you were wrong.

Marc Pritchard is serious, he’s impatient and he wants you to join him now to get things done.

I travelled to Orlando with high expectations of the ANA’s Media Conference but I was secretly fearful that Marc Pritchard’s keynote wouldn’t hit the highs of his “barnstorming” speech in January at the IAB Leadership – where he had laid out in brutal simplicity, Procter & Gamble’s ‘Action Plan for Media Transparency’.

I accepted that the IAB speech might just have been a one-off; a momentary lapse of corporate nicety from a senior marketers conscious of its billion-dollar relationships with agency networks, vendors and advertising platforms. After all, P&G has some of the largest and most valuable media relationships in the world.

So I flew with one big question on my mind: did Marc actually want to set in motion a movement for ‘#MediaChange’ that will undoubtedly redefine the media landscape forever?

Practical and action-oriented

Thankfully, he did not disappoint. Marc arrived at the ANA conference in the mind of a general briefing his platoon. His tone was urgent, insistent, impatient as he paced the stage, rarely stopping to animate his words, just letting his narrative float out over the room, and by extension via social media, the entire media industry waiting for his update.

Where the IAB speech had laid out the framework of his action plan, this speech was more practical and action-oriented. The main way he used to build his speech was a clever call-and-response mechanic, which Marc referred to as the “head fakes” – he is a big fan of sport and frequently uses sporting analogies, a head-fake is a ‘dummy’ or misdirection of opponent – which he suggested the industry was using to rebut parts of his action plan.

He wasn’t having any of it. For example:

Head fake: The MRC standard is the lowest common denominator!

Response: Yep. It is. And that’s exactly what we need and want. Remember, viewability means the opportunity to see an ad.

Head fake: The MRC guidelines are not designed for mobile!

Response: Not true. Read the MRC guidelines. I have.

Head fake: Procurement is making egregious demands.

Response: Give me a break! Procurement is a valid resource and an expert partner on supply chains that we rely on to help us.

It was impressive stuff and I believe it has created five important legacies.


Marc was adamant that the delegates attending get involved. “When P&G talks, the industry listens,” said ANA CEO Bob Liodice after the speech. What was clear from Marc was this speech was not about P&G, it was not about ANA but was a masterclass in how marketers can build courage to demand what they required from the industry.

For example, one question from the audience was about what Marc would advise a smaller advertiser without P&G’s resources, he said: “Regardless of your size, the clarity with which you ask the question and make the demand will go a long way, you might be surprised. Remember you have options, you could still take your money and put it in different places.”

He pushed marketers to find the confidence to call meetings with their own agencies, vendors and platforms with a clear agenda, a list of requirements and the knowledge to deal with objections.


The clever use of the “head fakes” routine really helped to debunk the challenges and was hugely useful and practical. You could see that Marc was intent on briefing his disciples, creating action not just planting seeds and spreading ideas. This approach made the action points real in the minds of marketers, they could visualise their own agency and vendor conversations.


Marc suggested to the ANA that members pledge support for the P&G action plan. The morning following his keynote speech, during a breakfast session, Aaron Fetters from ComScore asked for a show of hands from the attending advertisers who would be supporting the pledge. They all raised their hands. A big moment. The industry is ready to come together and act now.


At the Conference, Bob Liodice, CEO of ANA, also released details of a new initiative called the ANA Masters Circle, which is a 12-step programme designed to empower marketers to ‘take back our industry’ by creating common areas of focus as best practice. This includes initiatives like gender equality standards, creativity, talent retention, training and transparency and the ANA will be looking to recruit support to validate this approach.


I was really pleasantly surprised at the confidence, smarts and swagger of the marketers attending and presenting. Some of the presentations really demonstrated that the availability of data has been a democratising force, giving marketers the back control (should they choose to take it).

Some, who have really started to exploit their own data showed that they were already way smarter than their agencies. To me this is a tipping point. For example, IBM’s Ari Sheinkin and EA’s Belinda Smith, in particular, provided powerful case studies that gave marketers huge confidence that they too can do this themselves.

Next up Marc is taking his message straight into the agency community, presenting the keynote on day two of the 4As conference in April. The 4As will be a fascinating point on this journey. Will we see an agency community ready to embrace the challenge laid down by the world’s most influential marketer? Or will they use the opportunity to make clear any resistance?

It will be a brave agency that lines up more “head fakes” to a man who is proving to have little patience with excuses.

As the 4A’s agenda shows, he’s keen to recruit agencies to his change agenda: “In his keynote, chief brand officer, Marc Pritchard, explores the possible causes of why it’s been so tough [for agencies], to identify what to do about them, and move forward to transform our businesses together.

“Marc will call for raising the bar on expectations, partnership, productivity, and creativity to drive growth in the future – together.”

I’m looking forward to speaking with P&G’s global media head Gerry D’Angelo in a session at the Festival of Media Global 2017 on 9 May called ‘Media Transparency – Clean up the supply chain to invest in advertising & growth‘ where we may be able to dig further into some of these areas.

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