Cui bono (“to whose benefit?”, literally “as a benefit to whom?”, a double dative construction), also rendered as cui prodest, is a Latin adage that is used either to suggest a hidden motive or to indicate that the party responsible for something may not be who it appears at first to be.
I came across this statement recently in one of the many books I’m attempting to finish during my venture into writing a book myself. It got me pondering on this aspect when it comes to marketing/advertising/public relations. Who is benefiting from a campaign? Who is benefiting from the hours of planning and designing an ad or website? Is it the client or is it the agency? Who reaps the benefits?
One would hope that the client would, yet there are examples of agencies doing work so that they can win an award because they believe that this brings them business. Sure, the client gets a great piece of collateral, but at what costs? The cost of the actual hours the agency charges, then the cost of business and/or leads that never happens. But hey, they got great collateral or ads!
Of course, they may have been above the head of the intended audience, but it looked great, right?
Does the marketing industry benefit from these ads or cause even better campaigns? Does a creative director benefit because it serves as inspiration? Does a marketing team benefit when they’re white-boarding a new campaign? Currently, I believe that marketing is at another set of crossroads. We saw it a few years ago when social media was the darling of marketing. Now we’ve come to realize that it is just another tool to use. We also saw it recently when the talk of “content is king” was the talk of the town.
We’re starting to see an almost jaded approach to social media nowadays. People in marketing are getting ‘tired’ of social media….getting burned out. We’ve worked so hard to make it work and now as we’ve learned that it’s really not for everyone and what can actually work and not work….we’re looking for the next big thing. So who will benefit? Will it be the marketers that has seen the evolution of social media, public relations and advertising. Will it be the new generation of digital natives? Those that have never had to do layout with a glue gun, Exacto knife and a blank piece of paper.
Will it be the client who should be the beneficiary of marketing efforts. The client is our money; they pay our bills, keep the lights on, make sure we have a decent car to drive and so on. And they in turn, do the same for their employees. I don’t think I have to mention that this is all cylindrical.
One can’t survive without the other. One can’t move ahead in business without the other. The question remains, “who benefits?”
The proper answer is…everyone involved from agency to client to the audience….and then it turns into a win-win-win situation.