Tom Denford
By Tom Denford
Jun 19, 2013 6:38:41 PM

Procurecon Marketing London: An Observer's View


On June 10-11 in London, ProcureCon held their first session in Europe dedicated to the procurement of marketing and digital services.

The ProcureCon Marketing 2013 Conference was held at The Jumeirah Carlton in London's Knightsbridge and featured key speakers from heavyweight marketing spenders such Vodafone, BT, Microsoft, Novartis, ABF and Nokia as well as the leading marketing trade bodies ISBA and WFA.


The main agenda of the conference included how marketing procurement leaders should:

  1. Influence/manage the spend within the marketing category better to impact the bottom line
  2. Gain internal buy in from marketing stakeholders to deliver value for money to the best of your ability
  3. Attract, manage and retain marketing procurement professionals


About 150 delegates from marketing procurement organisations and supporting consultants attended across the two days, key themes coming from the presentations included the need for greater transparency in agency supplier relationships, better marketing performance measures, especially in media and lots of debate about the role that procurement can and should play in marketing investment decisions and where they best add value. Broad consensus seemed to echo previous debates and there were many reminders that procurement and marketing need to find ways to work together more effectively.

We believe that this relies on squaring a process internally which enables(this is the key word) procurement and marketing to work better together. The enabling comes from being more aligned internally on shared goals and not having the two functions at conflict, for example by incentivising marketing to create value whilst incentivising procurement to create savings. It's hard to compromise these things so that procurement and marketing can collaborate. You can't collaborate if your purposes are opposing and contradictory.


The highlights of the conference from ID Comms point of view was of course the keynote presentation by Sharon Spina, Vice President, Global Sourcing at Novartis. Sharon detailed how Novartis had managed a best practice media agency review in 2011. The scope of the project is very impressive:

  • Five of the largest Novartis companies working in collaboration
  • Combined media spending of $650m
  • 105 markets globally

The global media agency pitch process resulted in a single agency contract which covered media planning and buying activity for Novartis in 105 countries, making it one of the world's largest advertising accounts in geographic scope and scale. Sharon shared the process Novartis undertook to succeed and how they maximised the benefits and minimised the risks within such a complex procurement project. Sharon was also kind enough to pay credit to ID Comms role in that success, sharing with delegates how we had designed and managed the global media pitch to support the Novartis media council members.

Read the full Novartis Media Pitch case study in our best practice case studies section. Or download a PDF Novartis case history.


There was a decent flow of tweets and comments from the two days, our favourites of course (with no modesty whatsoever) were the props given to ID Comms, such as the one above from contract compliance ace Adrian Jenkins from Financial Progression.

Other things worth sharing too was a great slide from Steve Lightfoot, Communications Procurement Manager at WFA from their Spire diagnostic tool, this shows a fascinating spread of procurement influence over marketing investment decisions and how this varies quote significantly by region.

For more detailed posts on content and the perspective of some well qualified and balanced procurement professionals check out these good summaries by Jane Beer-Jones at ICP (@beerojones) and Peter Smith at Spend Matters (@gpetersmith) - Peter also wrote up Thomas Holzapfel'ssession (@theho) plus Tina Fegent (@tinafegent) has uploaded herProcureCon keynote on her blog.