MARKETERS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT POST-RECESSION PROSPECTS

Emphasize Need to Integrate Ad Messages Into Media Content

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- While admitting the post-recession marketing landscape is unlike any in the past, marketing panelists

Photo: Hoag Levins
Attendees registering in the Hyatt's ballroom lobby this morning were generally optimistic about economic recovery.
at AdWatch today were optimistic about economic prospects for the rest of the year and beyond.

PepsiCo's Pepsi-Cola North America's president, Dawn Hudson, said she saw moderate, cautious reason for optimism, as opposed to a "huge" reason to greatly ramp up ad spending.

Ms. Hudson spoke today on a panel at the AdWatch: Outlook 2002 conference, co-sponsored by UBS Warburg, Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR and Advertising Age.

Uncertainty has abated
Fellow panelist Alec Gerster, CEO of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative Media Worldwide, said the immense uncertainty late last year about the economy appears to have abated. "This year will be a moderate [spending] increase off a very soft base," he said.

Mr. Gerster; James Stengel, global marketing officer for Procter & Gamble Co.; and Julie Roehm, director of Dodge communications at DaimlerChrysler, said the upfront media market gets more attention than it deserves.

Ms. Roehm also took issue with how marketers have been trying to sell their goods: "In the past 230 years, [since the U.S. advertising model launched, it] doesn't seem to have evolved very much," she said. "It's myopic. ... It needs to evolve. It's nice to say, but it's hard to do."

More than 30-second spots
With media options increasing and consumers overwhelmed with information, marketers must work even harder to convey their messages. "If you're only about 30-second spots on TV, you're in trouble," Ms. Roehm said.

With innovations such as TiVo that allow consumers to skip commercials, companies need more good, original programming that can accommodate appropriate product placement, plus other marketing efforts such as direct mail to connect with consumers.

"It's up to us to find ways to continue to communicate with the consumer in relevant ways," Ms. Roehm said.

Part of consumer's life
Procter's Mr. Stengel agreed: "The era of pushing messages to the consumer are over. You have to be part of her [life]."

Panelists did not express great concern about ad industry consolidation and said it could even bring significant benefit as bundling can help companies better communicate with their target. Ms. Hudson, for one, said that while one-stop shopping at agency networks can help clients, she does not envision limiting herself to just one agency partner. Pepsi-Cola's primary agency is Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, though sibling Element 79 Partners, Chicago, handles brands such as Aquafina.

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