This story has been rattling around in my head ever since it was reported a couple of weeks back, but I haven’t seen a lot of commentary on it. AdAge reported that Ford has hired Accenture to audit its marketing plans for major car model launches. Without getting into a discussion on the merits or failings of Accenture, or the particuluar challenges faced by Ford, it’s a significant sign of the fault lines emerging in the marketing industry.
Businesses have been griping for years about the failings of the agency model–largely to no avail. But when a major U.S. corporation hires a business consulting firm to audit it’s marketing plans, you can no longer ignore the obvious fact that marketing agencies have let a tremendous void grow between themselves and their clients. I would lable that void: Boardroom Credibility. And business consulting firms like Accenture have obviously determined it’s a void they can drive a Brinks truck through.
Ford takes pains to say that this isn’t a creative issue–that Accenture won’t be replacing their other agencies–but that only rubs salt into the wound. It’s like saying, "you creative types, don’t worry your little heads about this, just go on making pretty pictures, or whatever it is you do, while the grownups talk business." Clearly Ford has major concerns about its marketing investment which their agencies have failed to mitigate. Now Ford is looking beyond the agency for strategy validation.
Talk about dropping the ball…