Mark Lollback: Advertising must ditch ‘sexy toys’ and refocus on discipline and rigour

In the latest instalment of the 2018 MCN PartnerFront Vox Pops, Mark Lollback from GroupM ANZ chats to Paul McIntyre about focusing on delivering sales results. Stay tuned for more in the content series coming up over the next few weeks in collaboration with AdNews. 

GroupM ANZ chief executive, Mark Lollback, believes advertising has disappeared too far up the innovation pipeline at the expense of disciplinary rigour.

The result is sluggish growth for clients, and a Damoclean sword hanging over CMOs and their agency partners.

The former Unilever, ANZ and McDonald’s marketer urged the industry to ditch “sexy toys” and refocus on delivering sales results. 

Speaking at MCN’s PartnerFronts, Lollback questioned the diversion of billions of dollars into digital channels and the industry’s related obsession with novelty.

“Marketing requires an amazing amount of discipline,” said Lollback. “But, I am not sure if I see where we are spending some of our money - and almost the digital revolution [itself] - that we are being as objective and as rigorous around some of the disciplines, research and measurement we really need to do.

“I think there are a lot of sexy toys versus rigour.”

Lollback suggested the problem had infected all areas of marketing communications – with brands paying the price.

“As an ecosystem, if we are as good as we think we are, why is it that most of our clients are growing at 2-3%, if that?”

Lollback said if the industry wanted to be “professional”, it must deliver “outstanding results” for clients.

“That means not doing what we want to do, but doing what is absolutely right to solve the problem with a massive amount of rigour – and then spades of creativity.”

Marketing has focused too much on creativity and not enough on hard graft, Lollback believes, and must relay its foundations.

“The whole of the industry seems to have jumped on a particular wagon. But, at the end of the day the results aren’t delivering. So, as a group we need to take a step back and focus on the craft.”

GroupM is having those conversations with clients, though some do not need to be told. Lollback said his previous employer, McDonalds, put sales at the heart of its marketing operation.

“The size of my budget was totally determined on the results I delivered. It was a rigorous, ruthless exercise,” said Lollback.

“It wasn’t about doing ‘nice stuff’, it was absolutely about results. I think that is probably where we need to get back to.”