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Renault’s vice-president of global brand strategy laments the amount of time he spends stuck on committees and working in spreadsheets, while Bella Italia’s head of digital says her board doesn’t even care about the cost per impression (CPM). Their shared frustration? Marketers have lost their common sense.

Driven by an obsession with data, KPIs and the thrill of being able to watch return on investment in real-time, conversations at Ad:tech London yesterday (27 September) suggest a growing number of marketers have forgotten the basics: how to talk to customers.

“We’re currently trying to get everyone to go back to common sense,” Renault’s Bastien Schupp said, speaking on a panel run by Oystercatchers‘ Suki Thompson.

“Everyone’s talking in fancy technical terms but when I see a tactical ad during the World Cup semi-final on TV that drives me completely nuts. We need to find a balance between doing the basic things right, getting the right KPIs into the business and keeping some kind of common sense.”

Schupp, who is currently on a mission to inject some ‘va va voom’ back into Renault, said not enough of his time is spent talking about creative. Instead, he finds himself “stuck in committees, spreadsheets and boring stuff all the time”.

“Ideas will win the race,” Schupp said. “Good ideas are still more important than the technologies.”

Meanwhile, Melanie Mack, head of digital for Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge and Belgo, said marketers can often end up getting “analysis inertia”, which renders it impossible to make decisions.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to go, ‘I’m a human being and also a consumer and actually this seems to make sense’,” she explained.

“Some things that worry me about the [Sir Martin] Sorrell vision are that he seems to be separating the creative from the analysis. That’s really dangerous because you end up in this world where you’re sucked into a spreadsheet and you can end up forgetting the human being and emotional part of it.”

While most brands are looking at how technologies like artificial intelligence can be integrated into the business, Mack said her and her team aren’t even having conversations about this yet.

“My fundamentals are covers in the restaurant. When I’m talking to my board, they don’t care what my CPMs are or anything else, they just say how many [people are eating] and what’s their spend per head. It’s that basic.”