Monday, December 15

Klasa; inspiration for the phrase "Worst practice"


In the future, when students look for a case study in how not to manage a big communications campaign, they will surely turn first to Klasa. Successive Ministers have come and gone in the years since it started. Each one has made some decision about Klasa, which to the marketing professional, looks baffling. And that is the polite word.


Let's remind ourselves; The Klasa annual budget has been as high as 310m CZK, making it one of the biggest single budgets in the market. It was odd then that for several years this campaign was managed by an agency called Comunica, an agency nobody in the market had previously heard of, and with a mysterious ownership structure which appeared to end up in the US tax haven state of Delaware. (you may also note that in March this year Comunica a.s. changed its name to Digitalcom, while the Comunica website is now the property of Comunica s.r.o.).


Thanks to requests made under the Freedom of Information law, I discovered that the tender was organised so that the creative agency was free to choose a media agency as subcontractor. For reasons which will be obvious to most readers, such a structure is not best practice  in commercial companies, since the client could never properly control or audit the media buying.


Last year there was a new tender which was won by McCann-Erickson. Comunica complained about the tender to UOHS - and won. UOHS cancelled the tender. I understand that the grounds for cancelling the tender are absurdly superficial. A spreadsheet in McCann's submission which should have appeared on one page, appeared on a different page. As a result of this trivial error, McCann have lost millions of crowns of revenue, employees have lost their jobs, and Czech producers have lost marketing support in a difficult year.


But now we have a new Minister, Marian Jurečka He got off to a good start. He announced that from now on, creative and media would be separated. Well done, Minister. But wait, what's this? "Our marketing department will buy the media" he announced. " We don't see the need for a media agency. We are able to  get interesting prices, and with high effectiveness"


Now this would be the first Ministry I have ever heard of with a "marketing" department, since marketing is an activity whose goal is long term profit. Indeed no such department appears on the Ministry's organisation chart. There is however a Communication department, led by Mgr. Hynek Jordán. Unfortunately, unlike virtually all senior media agency buyers, Mr Jordán does not have a Linked In profile. A Google search however tells us that he is 33 years old, and appears to have a background as a press spokesman.


Mr Jordán, apparently, has the expertise and negotiating power to secure better prices from TV Nova for his 200mCZK budget than will OMG , Group M, or SMV; agencies who of course have budgets of billions, systems and research tools, and talented people with experience of many market sectors over many years.  Truly he must be a remarkable young man. I do not know why he is working on a Ministerial salary, when clearly he could be running one of those agencies and probably quadruple his salary.


There just remains the question of who might actually investigate, on behalf of the taxpayer, whether Mr Jordán really has bought more effectively than all those useless media agencies. Will a professional consultancy such as this one be called in to carry out such an audit? Well you can easily ask the Ministry this question, and let everyone see the answer, by using this website. In the meantime we can only watch as Klasa continues to ignore all examples of "best practice", and inspires us to create a new piece of marketing jargon: "Worst Practice".




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