Media Perspective: With outside forces laying siege, adland needs to stand firm

Marketing weak. The current pervading marketing is pathetic. It even extends to the ineptitude of PR at Parliamentary level.

The London Evening Standard published a front-page article about David Cameron's pledge to cut ministerial salaries by 5 per cent following the expenses scandal. This is another example of a useless communications strategy and an unwillingness to face a problem that should have been addressed decades ago.

The secretary of state earns less than a middle-ranking account executive at an ad agency. Surely it would better befit the enterprise-driven Tory Party to champion an ethos that remunerated people, be they MPs or nurses, more appropriately in line with their enormous responsibilities. Love or loathe Ken and Boris, at least they are prepared to try to face a problem head-on, despite risking universal criticism.

Treating the public as idiots is a very poor assumption, whether applied to politics or branding.

As an industry, we are complicit in similar ineptitude - advising banks to squabble during the credit crunch, knocking each other's credibility for transient short-term gain. National confidence in our institutions is probably so damaged that all one can rely upon for comforts these days are Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Persil or a loaf of Hovis.

Like MPs, we in our business also perpetuate the impression that we are not worthy of decent remuneration through not setting our benchmarks high enough. No wonder, then, that Peperami, following Walkers' quest for a new flavour, has turned to the public as a source of ideas. For decades, agencies have sacrificed their most potent weapons on the altar of creativity by offering account planning skills for free. Now, just when the ability to spot a creative needle in a haystack has become a priceless asset, there is no financial model for how to charge for it.

To add insult to injury, our conventional marketplace is also shrinking through the imposition of restrictive legislation. Seemingly, the meek are finally inheriting the earth and it is costing us dear.

We live in a nanny state where people are not trusted to make normal consumer choices anymore, which is both patronising and a creeping invasion of our basic human rights.

The British Medical Association has demanded a total ban on alcohol advertising. As if that is the antidote for our genetic urges to anaesthetise ourselves. There is little justification in brutalising advertising as being the primary culprit for all society's ills. We should vigorously support efforts to rebuff this reactive attack and defend the intelligence of the public to make their own increasingly informed decisions.

We now find ourselves stuck between Northern Rock and a hard place.

Jonathan Durden is the creative partner at MPG.

Ian Darby is away

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).