Madison Ave. out of touch?

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an overwhelming majority of CEOs, chief marketing officers and agency leaders believe that the traditional marketing model is broken.

That's the result of a survey from Now, a newly formed consulting company that plans to work with that group to change the way marketers connect with consumers.

Now queried 300 CEOs, marketing chiefs and agency management last month and found, of the initial 115 responses, general agreement that their marketing spending could be more effective (92%) and that marketing should better leverage new technologies, media and branded content (76%). A full 98% said consumers wield more power thanks to word of mouth and new sources of information, while 85% of respondents believe Madison Avenue needs to reconnect to marketers' new challenges. Some 71%, moreover, said mega-agencies are too focused on their own financial results rather than a client's business.

Realization is only part of the battle. Now estimated that what it calls with-it "Now brands" spend less on advertising than do dull "Not Now" brands. Starbucks received $34 million in measured media last year, compared with Coca-Cola Classic's $108 million; Mini Cooper received $22 million versus Buick's $183 million; while Google received a grand total of $2.4 million, compared with AT&T's excess of $928 million, according to spending figures from TNS's Media Intelligence/CMR.

"The key issue today for advertisers is that the market is moving faster than the marketer. As a result, advertisers are losing their connection with the consumer," said one participant in the study conducted by Elissa Moses, Now founder.

tougher sell

Ms. Moses, author of "The $100 Billion Allowance: How to Get Your Share of the Global Teen Market," launched Now this month with three founders of WPP Group's Fusion 5. Ms. Moses and CEO Patrick Meyer, President Robin Austin and partner Mickey Farley say traditional marketing no longer works because information from the Internet as well as word of mouth makes consumers a much tougher sell.

The trio founded Fusion 5 in 1994 and sold it six years later to London's Tempus, which in turn sold to WPP Group in 2001. They attracted clients such as Coca-Cola Co., SABMiller, DaimlerChrysler and Virgin Mobil, posting annual growth levels of 40% for almost a decade. Though Fusion 5's specialty was just about everything but ads, as part of an advertising holding company it often clashed with agencies that worried it was trying to muscle in. Mr. Meyer left late last year, Mr. Austin in March.

Mr. Meyer said Southport, Conn.-based Now is negotiating with a soft-drink company, an automaker, a brewer and a telecommunications company that he declined to identify. Two, however, are expected to be SABMiller and Virgin Mobile. Mr. Meyer said typical engagements would range from $400,000 to $2 million and last for several months. He said nine marketing experts with consulting experience, including the founders, have signed on with Now and that with another six senior executives would be on hand by the end of the month.

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