Editorial: Procurement helps everyone

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"Procurement-management expertise ... is a solution, not a problem. ... It's time for client marketing departments and their ad agencies to buy in."

We said those precise words on this page in 2003. We're happy to see progress. Yet there still are too many marketing and agency executives who think procurement exists solely to whack costs. The reality is that procurement officers bring skills and business savvy that can improve the value of marketing and build relationships.

A survey of marketing and procurement executives by the Association of National Advertisers shows there's still a disconnect between those two groups inside companies (AA, May 9). They should be on the same side, seeking the most efficient, effective marketing.

But there is good news. The contingent of marketing-savvy procurement officers is growing rapidly. The ANA is providing a welcome forum for these executives to share and define best practices. The American Association of Advertising Agencies, meanwhile, featured a session at its recent annual convention offering constructive ideas for dealing with procurement.

Marketing, agency and purchasing execs will agree on one point: Procurement knows how to cut costs. For public companies in a global market, that's an imperative.

But procurement can do much more. Marketing executives who embrace it will find allies in spending money to generate a higher return on investment. How to make marketing more effective, valuable and respected in the C-suite? Partner with procurement, which has growing clout with the CFO and CEO.

Agencies, too, will have opportunities if they learn to speak the language of procurement-efficiency, transparency, good business practices. Agencies that build those ties could reap another reward: In a world where turnover among brand managers and CMOs is constant, agencies could find procurement a useful ally in maintaining good relationships over time.

Procurement officers have a permanent seat at the table. That's good news for everybody who believes in smart, effective marketing.

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