I went to a phenomenally interesting client meeting yesterday with a large international FMCG company that will remain nameless for obvious reasons. They own some of the worlds largest brands so you’d rightly be thinking they were ‘all over’ their digital presence. It appeared that wasn't the case... However, they knew this and as a result had brought in four high profile UK wide recruitment agencies to assess their capability to recruit a raft of challenging ‘digital’ positions. The four agencies comprised one who specialised in FMCG, two generalist marketing and one pure digital. Whilst the process was run by HR, among other people, we had their Head of E-commerce sitting in the background assessing us for our understanding of their requirements. This was a first! There were a number of really interesting stages to the event however the illuminating part came when they asked for our opinions of their digital presence. Hmmm – how do you feed back this stuff? Brutally honest or tactfully diplomatic. We're in the 'dating' stage so went for the latter. However they received four very different responses from the agency representatives. Without going in to detail, unless you ‘get’ digital, it’s very difficult to blag and the pure fmcg recruiter fell into this category. In the same way, unless you get ‘brands’ these days digital just doesn’t stack up on it’s own. The pure digital recruitment business somehow missed the fundamentals of marketing and actually 'why' you would use digital to engage with an audience. Great with the buzz words, but not with the understanding. One of the generalist marketing recruiters (we prefer still to call ourselves ‘specialists’) made the very salient point that if you don’t understand the basics of marketing (who remembers the 4 P’s) then how can you know if digital is the saviour? That anyone we would introduce to the client would understand brand first and digital in depth second. This seemed to be received relatively positively! Low and behold, we seem to have reverted back to an ‘integrated’ world where you need to understand brand to get you to the channel, of which you may choose advertising, sales promotion, PR (etc etc) and of course, digital which is now more often than not a pretty important one! Overall, whilst approaching the day with a little trepidation, as you’d expect from a world leader in their field, the client ran a really productive event and I hope I speak for all when I say that it was really interesting. I also hope that they see the value of brand leading to the channel rather than vice versa and we become their agency of choice.