Monday, September 15, 2008

Non-working Budget

I used to have a great big Fortune 500 consumer packaged goods client when I was with Tribal DDB in San Francisco.

They used to refer to their marketing allocation as being broken down into “working” and “non-working” budgets. The idea was that production costs and agency fees would fit into the “non-working” budget while all media would fit into the “working” budget.

This terminology always disturbed me. The implication was that money put into “non-working” areas was essentially wasted, since it wasn’t doing anything, whereas the only thing that had an impact was “working” dollars. The end result of this thinking was the idea that investing in a great idea, or in your agency, would be frowned upon, and in general a waste of money. Today that thinking would imply that a dialogue with your customers would be all "non-working", with funds far better spent on a big TV campaign.

Like so many things in this business, Bill Bernbach has a quote that I have always loved that responds to this type of thinking:

"Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make."

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