The recent slowdown has led to a knee-jerk cost-cutting virus.I have, obviously, no objection to the concept of cost-cutting.
Cost-cutting cannot be dictated by Excel. One cannot say, “travel is now 10% of cost, let’s make it 5%.”
My objections are to decisions that make it mandatory to travel by economy or shifting from a five-star hotel to lesser accommodation.
If your company’s CEO travels by business class rather than economy, the gains go far beyond his personal comfort.
The CEO is, always, a powerful brand ambassador of a company. When he is spotted standing in the business class queue (which is no queue at all), it’s a statement for the company.
His presence in the queue tells onlookers that his company is doing well. To some, it may send a message that he is being irresponsible by not flying economy. These few do not matter.
Because when the CEO gets onto the flight, he meets people from companies that his company does business with, that his company aims to do business with. He meets new people whom his company could benefit from getting access to. He meets people whom he might want to recruit.
These are all gains for his company, some of them direct and tangible, some of them tangential and intangible.
The same holds true about his staying at a five star hotel or using a high-end car for his use or drinking a single malt or ordering a lobster thermidor.
For me, this edit has been triggered by the decision by many advertising agencies to avoid Cannes this year. That’s really, really stupid.
The decision seems to be based on not wanting to be seen as being profligate in a difficult time. It is not profligate if appropriate people attend the event – it’s an investment on which the agency gets a return.
It’s like buying a copy of the Gunn Report. It might seem a waste of money, but all one needs to make a ‘profit’ from the purchase is for any creative to be inspired by any entry and use the inspiration for an idea.
If all executives above a certain level had a ‘right’ to fly business and stay at five-stars, change that rule and ensure that execs who are truly important continue to get the right. Prune the list.
Similarly, make a list of Cannes delegates based on performance or potential rather than on designation. It’s ridiculous to say those in account management and planning should not attend Cannes – their gain from attending seminars and fora and from networking will more than recover the costs of attendance.
If the argument is that Cannes seems to be a waste in difficult times, the counter-argument is that the decision will demoralize creatives and senior account management.
The decision needs to be managed. Employees who have never attended Cannes need to be told of benefits of attendance – even in a year of no salary increments and bonuses. The unfortunate situation that top management sees itself in is the picture that has been painted of Cannes – sun, sand and surf. The other picture of the speaker sessions and panel discussions is one that no one sees.Take time and correct this picture – and the agency will support the decision.
By all means cut down on the number of delegates, make people ‘qualify’ to attend, but do not reduce the decision to a seemingly ugly cell in an excel sheet.
A colleague of mine just attended the AME at Hong Kong. In a month, she’ll be at Cannes. Because these expenses are not a waste, but an investment on which we’ve seen returns in our first full year of publishing in India, on which we’ll see returns this year, and the next.