M&M Global Awards 2017 jury chair Oliver Maletz explains why data is going to re-shape Volkswagen Group’s approach to media and marketing.
“We’re under significant pressure,” admits Oliver Maletz, Volkswagen Group’s international head of communications and media planning.
It is an utterance that – a decade or so ago – would have provoked furrowed brows and the wringing of hands. However, in 2017’s new media order, such an acknowledgement is par for the course. Barely a brand marketer took to the stage at last month’s Festival of Media Global 2017 in Rome without revealing some inner sense of inadequacy.
Indeed, nearly 12 months on from the decision to award the company’s $3bn global media business to Omnicom Media Group’s PHD network, Maletz – who will chair the jury at this year’s M&M Global Awards – remains determined to future-proof VW’s media strategy.
At the heart of the lengthy review process, he says, was a need to find a partner to meet its already-evolving media needs: “Our revising approach forced us to have a review, because we just couldn’t get where we were going quickly enough.
“The review was really about who fits our process and our approach best, and who can enhance that and take that to the next level. It was a very in-depth. It took over a year, and we really did make sure that globally we made the right choice for every region.”
Thanks to a career that has included plenty of agency roles at Universal McCann, Horizon Media and OMD, Maletz has brought a fresh pair of eyes to the often insular world of automotive marketing.
It is an industry uniquely challenged by changing consumer purchase habits, as well as the rise of app-based personal mobility, yet many manufacturers have struggled to progress beyond decades-old marketing practices.
With consumers conducting most car purchase research online, rather than through a series of test drives, and accustomed to ongoing dialogue with brands, Maletz believes VW must completely re-wire its traditional approach to customer communications.
“Our business and our industry is changing. We’re moving forward from just a purchase once every three to seven years, depending on the country and the type of purchase, to being much more monthly transactions as we move down the path,” he says.
“That is a completely different marketing approach, and not something the auto industry is used to doing. [It] will require different approaches, [and] will require a different mind-set [to anything] we’ve ever had before.”
Indeed, in light of Maletz’s determination to improve VW’s use of data, he reveals he is in discussion with PHD and Omnicom to adopt a more unified approach to both creative and media.
“We are talking to Omnicom about beyond just PHD and [what] you need to in today’s world. The creativity-to-media bit is the biggest challenge we have now. How do we stay creative in a dynamic creative world? How do you continue your storytelling without showing a model of a vehicle on a white background, because that is the right model based on that data?