broadcasting, measuring, phdcast, television

Surviving the Crucible: Why We All Need to Calm Down, Back Off, and GIve Wake Up A Fair Go

in the latest PHDcast Nic, Stew, Zee (we’re still experimenting with the nickname – bear with us) and I talk Melbourne Cup brand activations Twitter’s flotation, the point of branded urls, strategy job titles … and the first week of Ten’s new breakfast show – which it’s fair to say has been watched very closely … by Adnews, B&T, and via a Mumbrella ratings game and by an article or two in the SMH.

Ten-WakeUp-presenters

the context into which Wake Up was born has been unfairly hostile, unduly challenging and way too immediately judgmental. to say that both Wake Up (and Studio 10 which follows it) launched into a crucible is perhaps an understatement, a crucible with multiple drivers:

one, the Ten financial pressure

Wake Up has been given birth by a parent with, it’s fair to say, some financial challenges. last month Network Ten reported a $285m loss and calls for $200m loan over four years to rebuild the product. TV is a cyclical game and networks will at some times be stronger than at others – but there’s no doubt the pressure is on.

two, the predecessor

launched in February 2012, Wake Up’s predecessor was Breakfast fronted by Kiwi Paul Henry, Kathryn Robinson, Andrew Rochford and Magdalena Roze.

Ten-Breakfast-presenters

Breakfast was axed in November of the same year after the show failed to steal ratings share from Seven and Nine. the show also came in for particular criticism of Paul Henry, who I always liked … he was, it always seemed to me deliberately divisive, callous and radically honest – which if you were in on the joke was actually rather entertaining.

whichever way you took Paul Henry, the debate and fate of Wake Up’s predecessor casts a considerable shadow over it’s launch. but in many ways the challenge that Henry in particular was tasked with addressing is the same one that Wake Up faces, that of being different …

the need to be breaking (bad) conventions

because Wake Up is also dealing with the clear and present need to challenge, break and redefine the conventions of morning TV. the opportunity isn’t to be an also-run breakfast show; another desk with other bright shiny people giving away other prize money to viewers just for being conscious and chatting about the latest political non-announcement. rather the opportunity is to create a genuinely different and distinctive morning TV offering … advertisers absolutely want it and there’s no reason to think that viewers don’t want it too.

in many ways I think this a crystallization of Ten’s current predicament: they need to be different enough to create reasons for viewers and advertisers to go with the smallest mainstream offering, but they need to stay mainstream enough to attract the largest possible (monetise-able) audience.

it’s a fine line to tread and its going to take time. time that the industry, with predictable scorning cynical superiority, isn’t looking to give the show and it’s team. it’s disheartening; as Nicola comments in the PHDcast, “I’m really disappointed, again, in the expected critique.  people wanted it to fail … its a week old”.

the truth is that you could have written last week’s commentary six months ago. it was that predictable. time now to step back and give the show and it’s team the time and space they need to craft a third way for commercial breakfast TV in Australia. viewers and advertisers alike need it, it’s our choice whether or not we give Wake Up the opportunity to survive its crucible.

enjoy the PHDcast … here’s team strategy PHDcasters enjoying an awesome afternoon at Melbourne Cup. it is after all the podcast that stops a nation …

PHDcast at the races

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content creating, praising

“Don’t act like you’re not impressed”: Lessons From Ron Burgundy On The Importance Of Being An Extension of Product, Not a Signpost To It

so I’m loving the marketing for Anchorman 2 which is seeing Ron Burgundy comment from his newsdesk on current events. Pete (hey Pete) sent around the above, in which Ron comments on the Melbourne Cup, part of the #bestdayever earlier this week … I also caught Ron taking over the Telstra-sponsored ‘please switch off your phone’ message on a trip to see Thor 2 (which was Thorsome) on Sunday.

it’s a great example of something I touched on several times both on this blog but in a ton of client conversations over the last few years … product-out communications.

the working paradigm for the broadcast age was that marketing worked as communications that were pushed out to consumers to make them aware of a product or service (and subsequently drive interest, desire and ultimately action). comms were a signpost to the product. a wealth of research, theory, evidence and smarts has evolved that paradigm to where we are today …

Ron’s message isn’t a broadcast-out signpost to increase awareness of the movie. instead Burgundy’s commentary is a great example of a product-out approach … of the product extending itself out to create value or utility (in this case entertainment). the fact that content exists for Aussie cinemas and the Melbourne Cup suggests that it’s a localised content strategy that could well be playing out in every major country in which the movie is being released. which is very smart.

all in all a great lesson in Paid being used as Owned media which (judging by the media and sharing pick-up) has generated a very respectable amount of Earned media on the way … nice work Paramount on a very elegant execution of a strategy which should pay dividends … after all, as Ron would say, “they’ve done studies, you know. 60 percent of the time, it works every time.”

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buying, debating, phdcast

PHDcast – The Letter D and Number 92 Episode: Departures, Diets and Discounts in Medialand

the PHDcast this week is brought to you by the letter D and the number 92. D stands for Dieting, as Pink Media announces a partnership between Fitness First and Mardi Gras; Departures, as Kyle and Jackie announce their departure from SCA’s airwaves and Discounts, as Adnews reports talk of an unprecedented 92% discount being offered by a media agency.

the discount, alleged to be on TV rates, marks an escalation in a bidding war that is arguably as old as media departments and then agencies themselves. but a perfect storm in recent years has seen a potent mix of procurement driving down client costs, an over-serviced marketplace, and the consolidation of holding groups (which increases buying power placing pressure on media owners).

that potent mix has resulted in run-away discounting and the radical commoditisation of media impacts … and they’re just the direct implications. the indirect implications spin into agency client resourcing, the extent to which media thinking and ideas are valued, media owner revenues (so ultimately impacting quality of broadcast content), and transparency and media neutrality … as agencies are forced to explore other higher margin areas to off-set the margin losses in the core business. I could go on.

so how do we stop the runaway train on which we find ourselves? one of the key problems is that everyone is implicated … everyone has something to gain from the current storm and much to lose by any attempted unravelling.

the money starts with clients. they’ve never had it so good from a CPM perspective … with agencies falling over RFPs to buy media cheaper (and cheaper media). questions of media quality become secondary to cost-saving and value extraction. their walk-away is to pay more for a supplier’s product – which would be brave by anyone’s standards.

from an agency’s perspective, guaranteeing radical discounts rates keeps and gets clients’ billings in the door which maintains the platform for value extraction with media owners on one hand and clients on the other. their walk-away is to explain that a price is as low as they can go and decline the businesses – another brave call given the demands for any major agency and group to demonstrate growth.

the money (in theory) ends up with a media owner … they are the ones at the sharp end of the deal but its a deal in which they’ve had no choice to be complicit. for them to put on the brakes could cost them 20-30% of revenues if a major buying group turns off the taps (a move for which there are precedents in other markets).

it’s stalemate.

of course my question on how we stop the train has an implicit assumption … that everyone wants to. I’m not naive enough to think for a second that everyone is sat bemoaning media buying’s current conundrum. ultimately the only reason the stalemate exists is that enough businesses are making enough money for it to be sustained.

new models already no doubt exist and will emerge. necessity is the mother of invention … in which case I can’t think that the need for inventors has ever been greater.

to be continued …

PHDcast011113

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branding, content creating, creating

The Joys of Burberry, Part Two – Brand-Corporate: the authenticity of a business that communicates like its brand

about two minutes into the above video Angela Ahrendts, the outgoing CEO of Burberry, delivers a marketing masterclass:

“we needed to keep the story authentic. we needed to keep it pure. we knew we were going to target different audiences. we knew that the mediums would be different. we knew it would be so much more global than maybe things has been in the past, but the story had to be the same. so we said everything we’re gonna do is target this Millennial customer, and if we do that we’re going to have to speak in their language, and their language was rapidly becoming digital. so we studied this customer and then adjusted each of our strategies in order to be relevant and authentic to this audience that we were catering to. because I think everything you do going forward, you can’t do anything the traditional way. it has to be so visual, and we hit on this word ‘energy’ early on and said we want everything we do to have energy.”

it’s a very elegantly conceived and expressed set of convictions: things Burberry knew, clarity of audience targeting, the implications of engaging that audience on their own terms, and a set of beliefs that challenge convention and set a strategic behavioural direction for the brand. ask yourself how many of the brands you do or have worked on have that clarity of focus?

I wrote about the joys of Burberry’s marketing back in July. I described my admiration for their flip of the online / physical retail approach, the digital-first strategy and the pleasure in watching kisses fly across the world; and I described the prolific investment of time and energy into content.

what’s so interesting and awesome about this content strategy however, is the extent to which it’s spread into Burberry’s corporate culture … they have an entire section on their YouTube channel devoted to corporate videos. from financial results to exec travelogues, taking in a discussion of the group’s acquisition of its stores and related assets in China on the way. the video content is an authentic, consistent voice not of the brand, but of the business.

there is much to admire. this is a business with the story it wants to tell and conversation it wants to have firmly in its own hands. it’s not solely dependent on it’s relationship with reporters and journalists to share its news, agenda, and take on the world. the story as they see it is there for anyone to watch, not hidden in a column in the financial section or the ‘recent press releases’ page of the corporate website.

but more than any of this its a glorious demonstration of the business behaving in comms the same way as would the brand. this is important. and its rare. I can think of only a few businesses that try and succeed in doing so. mine certainly doesn’t … although I’d rather like it to. because more than anything else it’s a phenomenally effective way for a company to communicate to the constituency who are hopefully its most ardent advocates – it’s own employees.

of course there is an obvious danger; the assertion that such a ‘brand-corporate’ strategy is nothing more than a smart and elegant attempt to over-control the message. that a business journalist can’t question a YouTube video. that a shareholder can’t challenge a per-recorded statement. or that style will mask substance. to which there is only one simple response … just behave on brand: in the knowledge that consistency, transparency and authenticity will out.

and you don’t get more transparent than a YouTube video of Burberry’s Chairman Sir John Peace talking with an outgoing and incoming CEO about the news that Ahrendts will step down as Chief Executive Officer by mid-2014, with Bailey (on whom I have a purely marketing crush) assuming the role of Chief Creative and Chief Executive Officer.

of course its well-packaged, and of course its practiced and of course well-finished.

but so is a great fashion brand.

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awarding

The Engines of Objectivity: Media Awards Shows … and the necessity of the Faustian pact by which we are judged

another week another round of award entering and ceremony attending. or at least so it seems. this week’s PHDcast is a debrief from last week’s MFA Awards … we discuss the events of the night, the winners, the fall out, and the very point of awards themselves. what exactly, are awards good for anyway?

the growth in local and international awards reflects the fragmentation of media itself. here in Australia we have the Mumbrella Awards, B&Ts, Adnews, and of course the MFAs from last week. regionally you get the Spikes, Campaign Asia, but also Festival of Media … and globally Cannes, the Internationalist, (more) Spikes and Festival of Media … I could go on (there’s a rich seam of digital awards to mine I haven’t touched on), but the point is I think made, that award entering could pretty much be a full-time job.

the growth extends to more categories within an individual award platform; each year see’s more and more categories at Cannes, and the MFAs this year had an additional two categories in which contenders could do their thing.

all this means more resource in agencies to fuel the fire of award entering and competing – a point very elegantly made by Zenith’s Ian Perrin in a guest post on Mumbrella back in August. in the rather provocatively entitled ‘Let’s end the awards obsession and stop putting our dollars in the hands of publishers’, Perrin referred to a conversation with a CMO, who commented:

“I am so sick to death of being asked to submit our work into bloody award festivals that nobody has ever heard of, or cares about. If I went into a board presentation and declared that we had won a bronze in a Tasmanian advertising awards festival, I would be fired on the spot. And yet all my agencies seem to care about is entering these awards” he said. “Who cares if the Tasmanian’s loved my print ad, when I still have stock on the shelf at Coles?”

unnamed prominent and influential CMO

the comment thread (bitching a trolling aside), pretty much gets to the nub of the issue: award shows are big business … EMAP, which bought the Cannes Advertising Festival (now the Cannes Festival of Creativity) in 2004 and manages it under it’s i2i brand, last year returned to profit in no small part due to the healthy return it generates from the event and others like it.

“The star performer has been events division i2i grew revenues about 10% year on year in the first half to £71m, thanks to its Spring Fair retail event at the NEC centre and advertising event Cannes Lions in France, with underlying earnings up 16% to £33m. The division accounts for half of Top Right’s revenues and 70% of underlying profits.”

source, the Guardian, July 2012

70% of underlying profits coming from events. that’s probably something that isn’t too far from the reality of a lot of former publishers (I say former as many have now well and truly diversified their businesses and incomes to combat the decline of print ad revenues – no more elegantly than Mumbrella). awards are a pretty good way for publishers to make money, so what’s ultimately in it for agencies?

well rather a lot …

a showcase for the work, the work, the work (as one agency puts it). and not just the work you would like to be rewarded and acknowledged but rather the work that has been peer reviewed by your industry colleagues, which leads to:

acknowledgement of the results you are delivering for your clients … awards are tangible demonstrations of how an agency is helping clients grow their brands and generate return for their investment in your strategies and ideas, which leads to:

a reputation for thinking and work that is, crucially, acknowledged by your peers. you don’t just say you rock – you have a subjective benchmark to say just how much you do, actually, rock. which in theory leads to:

getting onto more pitch lists, clients respect your thinking and want to explore how you can deliver for their brand and business. so awards are ultimately (of course) about growing your business.

we’re not, I think, alone. across other industries in which the success or outcome of the product is inherently subjective (design, architecture, literature) awards are prevalent. awards are like objective engines … transforming the subjectivity of opinion into tangibility of proof. of course they’re still essentially subjective (the Effies perhaps aside), but not all subjectivity is, I suppose, created equal.

and so we’re left with a rather Faustian pact; publishers build the engines of objectivity that agencies need … and we feed them. relentlessly.

which is no bad thing … especially in an awards platform like the MFAs, throughout which (as entrant, judge, and attendee) I’ve seen nothing but professionalism and careful consideration and judgement. indeed they have created and been the forum for important debates – like the one Nic and Stew describe from their judging room (in the PHDcast above). and you also get to have a bit of fun on awards night.

so a big congrats again to all the winners, especially team PHD for their ANZ nomination and PepsiCo win, Steady for his induction into the MFA Hall of Fame and Initiative for their Grand Prix win. you can view all the winners here. see you next year for more of the same.

MFA Awards 2013 1

MFA Awards 2013 2

MFA Awards 2013 3

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debating, opinionating

Getting Back to Business: Choosing to change and inheriting media’s place in the boardrooms of Australia

MFA 5+ Talking Business

it was down to the serious business of, well, business yesterday morning, as the MFA hosted the next of their 5+ inspiration series. created for those in the Australian media industry with between five and ten years experience, the sessions expose those in the formative years of their media careers to inspirational individuals who encourage them to understand the opinions and experiences of others, and crucially discover and develop their own.

yesterday morning we were talking business and we were in the capable hands of former NBN boss Siobhan McKenna and finance reporter, broadcaster and commentator Michael Pascoe.

across two hugely inspirational (obvs), informative and entertaining talks they gave a bunch of media people everything from economics 101 to reasons why media should inherit a place at the boardrooms of Australia; I wrote a lot during the former and was encouraged by the latter. and over the course of the last day or so I’ve been thinking most, it occurs to me, about not so much business, but rather one of the key themes currently impacting on it; the nature of change.

because the world is changing

the G7 economies decline and the emerging economies take centre stage; there is only one work force and its global; urbanisation continues to drive and maintain commodity industries as well as infrastructure rethink; aging populations … these factors and more have seen disruption and change become the new normal – disruptive technological storms continue to challenge, and change, the world as we know it, or at least thought that we did.

because business context is changing

all of which has more than a small impact on (our clients’) business. it’s never, observed one of the speakers this morning, been a tougher or more competitive time to be in business. the example of Darrell Lea was cited: they didn’t go out of business because of a product or service deficiency, they went out of business because the industry premiumised at one end and commoditised on the other and they failed to change and got caught in the middle. and the middle, at least in business terms, is a terrible place to be.

business is changing.

because we need to change

which means that we need to change. of course.

but it struck me at the time, that the obvious response was and is one of ‘organisational’ change; “agencies need to change, the media and communications industries need to change. ‘we’ need to change. our bosses and our holding companies need to change.”

but that’s simply not the case. organisational change is slow, hard and frustrating. Jacko knew this:

“If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change”

source

as Melbourne-based organisational psychologist (who knew?) Simon Brown-Greaves see’s it: “there are people who’ve been through a lot of change and learn to adapt, and become less anxious as a result … and commitment and hard work have taught them that change presents opportunities” and then people who are “optimistic and confident in their ability to handle challenges … who actually enjoy change … [they’ve] learned that moments of great change are when you get ahead; senior managers look favorably on people who revel in change.”

to embrace change, is to change.

media’s inheritance

… is one of taking a valued and valuable place at the biggest business conversations in Australia. as it was put yesterday: “don’t underestimate your capacity to advise your clients. and and aspire to be leaders in the business community … [media people] don’t aspire to enough prominence and visibility in the business community. every board has an accountant, and lawyer, and someone with Asian experience”; there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be joined by high calibre media practitioners with deep understanding of emerging digital routes to market and understanding of consumer motivations and behaviours.

but its not ours for nothing. and its not ours for free. the responsibility of our would-be inheritance is one of change – as individuals. the media industry can have a voice at any table it wants, but only if we choose it. and only if we choose to change.

if yesterday’s MFA event did nothing other than encourage a few individuals to take personal responsibility to embrace the opportunity presented to us and change … then it will have achieved it’s mission, and a great deal more besides.

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advertising, branding, commenting, content creating, marketing, planning

From ZERO to Hero: its Joseph Jaffe versus the world as he shares his theory on surviving the Mediocalypse

“In a perfect world, the optimal paid media would be zero”

and there you have it. in sixteen short syllables Joseph Jaffe yesterday laid the gauntlet to, well, everyone.

in a Mumbrella Hangout with Tim and Nick, Jaffe took aim and didn’t hesitate in pulling the trigger as he took on the concept of paid media, it’s media agency proponents, media owner benefactors and client conspirators – all of whom are collectively woefully unprepared for the coming mediocalypse (that last word is totes all mine fyi).

Jaffe’s alternative vision is ZERO – a word that serves the dual purpose of being, in Jaffe’s opinion, the target investment a brand should make in paid media … and also an acronym for the elements that make up Jaffe’s counter theory … Zealots, Entrepreneurship, Retention and Owned assets (not media).

to say all this is brand new territory would be a stretch, but to say that it’s rarely been delivered with such zeal is not. Jaffe gleefully takes on Sorrell (“self-serving”), media owners (“complacency and mediocrity are not causes to be able to keep your job. being also to achieve … objectives and demonstrate proven value-add and utility and return on investment is a cause to keep your job”) and clients (“morons”). by the time Clive Burcham of The Conscience Organisation joins the conversation the platform is well and truly burning and we may as well all just run for the hills.

it’s easy to line up against Jaffe’s argument and theory: Ehrenberg Bass’ analysis would tackle the importance of Zealots, Entrepreneurship doesn’t offer the guarantee of exposure, success and ultimately growth that shareholders demand of businesses; on ‘Retention is the new Acquisition’ you can pick your counter-play, and there’s no client worth their salt that hasn’t developed and deployed an Owned asset strategy and plan. but here’s the thing … Jaffe is right.

the 30 second-shaped solution is to predominant. the ad venture is coming to an end. agencies and clients aren’t co-conspiring to create sufficient entrepreneurship and innovation. media is commoditised, and media thinking is undervalued. clients customers have become more important than their consumers, and despite billions of dollars of effort the scarcest commodity in the world remains human attention.

run for the hills indeed.

but despite Jaffe’s verging into hubris, he offers some wonderfully salient and sensible advice. his assertion that “the vision of ZERO is to move from being a tenant to a landlord” is a nicely articulated vision for how brands should increasingly approach their media planning; the idea of a “customer-employee ecosystem empowered by technology” makes total sense; that we should be advising our clients on how to redress the balance of their direct to indirect (media) investment is absolutely right; and to ask “why are we paying for attention, when we should be paying attention” is good enough to put on the t-shirt (should that be your inclination).

whatever side of the debate you’re on, you can’t deny that our negotiation of media’s future is the better for having Jaffe’s voice in the chorus. there will be heroes and outlaws aplenty in the coming mediocalypse, which one Jaffe turns out to be will be decided first by your perspective, and then by history.

PS if you want to skip to a couple of highlights in the above video jump to 13:17 to hear Tim deploy Nick to search for someone who has tattooed toilet paper onto themselves with the immortal words “Nick, to the Google …” or 13:44 to see’s Tim‘s earnest nodding and eyebrow raise at the news of Charmin’s acquisition of website ‘sit or squat’

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debating, phdcast

PHDCast Special – The State We’re In: Negotiating the Future of Media Agencies at the Agency Symposium

well hello there. I’ve been away taking some time off but I’m back and getting stuck straight into the future of agencies, as discussed at the Agency Symposium in the Hunter Valley last week. this week’s PHDCast discussed the main topics and fall-out from those sessions, attended by the great and good of agency land.

from disruption to efficiency versus effectiveness taking in pitching, innovation and what clients want versus what they will pay for on the way; this week we take on the big topics facing media and agencies right now. all of which comes off of the back of an awesome few days with my industry colleagues in the Hunter Valley. lots to follow up on, and will do so over the course of the next few posts, for now have a listen to the Symposers and let us know what you think … it’s good to be back 😉

Agency Symposers

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collaborating, IPA|ED:three, Mediated

Clients versus Agencies Round One Results: Clients 1 – Agencies 0 … and why some independent mediation may be required

sir-clive-woodward-via-Wales-online

Clive Woodward … Coach supremo – it will make sense later on (pic via WalesOnline)

something of a war or words seems to have broken out on the pages of Adnews of late. on one hand we have David Morgan of Nestlé (let’s call him the ‘client’) and on the other a range of voices including Leigh terry of Omnicom Media Groupe, Travis Day of Vizeum and Peter Grenfell of VCCP (let’s call them the agencies).

here’s a few samples of the debate:

“We’re getting stuck in the middle, stuck in operations, stuck in process management … we’re spending so much time doing things that are not core to our trade of marketing, that it’s taken up our ability to do our trade of marketing. Today, our guys are managing eight, nine, 10 different agency groups – digital groups, media groups, creative groups, strategy groups. It takes up a lot of time to talk to them, coordinate them, project manage them.”

David Morgan, Nestlé director of corporate communications and marketing services, speaking at ADMA Conference two weeks ago

“Managing relationships is easier when agencies are treated as strategic partners … modern agencies of all disciplines are recognising this and pouring significant effort into ensuring that they have a partnership role with all clients; that they are trusted advisor and, most importantly that their reporting and admin are streamlined”

Travis Day, general manager of Vizeum Melbourne

“Agencies can be guilty of getting caught up in their own world … agencies need to open up and be more collaborative with each other. Creative agencies need to not be sniffy because they lead the strategy and media agencies need to not be sniffy because they hold all the money.”

Peter Grenfell, MD VCCP

it’s been an interesting debate not just because it comes at a time when tensions across a whole range of agency / client issues are coming to the fore – remuneration and transparency, the pitch merry-go-round and the protection and respect of IP, and most recently the time and agency effort spent on entering awards – but also because there doesn’t seem to be any kind of logical or constructive response or solution to Morgan’s assertion.

the frustrations on both sides or more than understandable. unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your POV) media went and fragmented. fact.

non of which is new news … back in 2008 I wrote a piece as part of my IPA Excellence Diploma (module three if you’re wondering) in response to the question: what approach should a client take in terms of who does communications planning on a brand? my observation at the time was that the agency response to “media fragmentation … has been twofold. Firstly, diversification into a multitude of different and varied operations; secondly, generalisation …historically all props had to do was scrummage; now they expect themselves to run, catch, pass and lift in the line-out too”

I know … I resorted to a sporting analogy, but bear with me.

I explored the idea that the players (agencies) on the pitch were now so diverse and the necessary roles so specialised that coordination was a full time job (the latter point was perhaps the very one that David Morgan was making at the ADMA conference that sparked this debate). it seemed to me at the time that there were to solutions, the client coordinates or the agencies do, and observed flaws with each:

“One, individual agencies can never know enough about other disciplines to ensure communications planning they derive consider every perspective. It’s like asking prop-forward to plan a game strategy incorporating the nuances of the role of fly-half; the knowledge required is too broad and getting broader all of the time.

Two, Buckminster Fuller’s principle: “If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail” (as quoted in John Grant’s After Image). A player will never take themselves off the pitch; the very concept that any one agency can comprehensively and without bias write comms planning that excludes themselves is fundamentally compromised.” (source)

I suggested that there was a third way. that some clients may want to employ a coach (and the sporting analogy is complete) who is neutral, independent and can coordinate and allocate roles and responsibilities for agencies whilst the client focuses on marketing and ultimately business objectives.

as Clive himself said:

“My role isn’t to do players’ jobs for them. My job is to ensure that every player performs to their potential and as part of a team”.

Clive Woodward, BBC Interview

that sound’s like exactly the kind of role we need to me.

it’s perhaps not entirely right for every client, and there are flaws – not least of which is that its another outsourced role and relationship for a client to manage; but its a constructive suggestion … and I can’t help but observe that some of the agency response to Morgan’s challenge is at best smart observation of the problem, and at worst a claim (bordering on a whine) that agencies aren’t respected enough as ‘strategic partners’.

I fear that statements like “Creative agencies need to not be sniffy because they lead the strategy” do less rather than more to win the respect of a client who posed a reasonable and clearly present issue to the agency community.

this round’s result: Clients 1 – Agencies 0

we explore this is a ton of depth on last week’s PHDcast which you can enjoy listening to here:

player not working? click here to listen on Audioboo

featured image is Clive Woodward (the coach, gettit) via WalesOnline

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advertising, broadcasting, marketing, mediating, opinionating, television

The Myopia of the 2020 Vision: Why we need a whole load more rational when we debate the merits of Television

Think TV, a marketing initiative of Free TV Australia (the body representing all of Australia’s free-to-air metropolitan and regional commercial television broadcasters), have released the latest in their 2020 Vision series. the episode – the first of series three – see’s industry heavy-weights including Jeff Goodby (Goodby, Silverstein and Partners) and Sir John Hegarty (BBH) discuss (in Think TV’s words) “the importance of broadcasting powerful, mass reaching, messages that connect with audiences”.

its a curious beast. but then communications about communications are always the most interesting of creatures … on the surface this is a straight-forward and very well produced piece of content which talks-up the role and power of TV. but take a closer look and a rather all-too defensive agenda emerges:

some highlights:

TV is till 60% of what we buy because it absolutely is the best place to be able to tell stories and connect people with your brand” … “we try to use video and television as a way to understand our customer … television is the only place you can do that” Kevin Mayer (Volkswagen of America Inc)

“the use of television is fundamental in telling a brand story and engaging with the audience in an intriguing and interesting way” Sir John Hegarty

“the great thing about TV … is that it allows you to go around the rational objections to a product … you have to find another emotional road to take people along so that they don’t think about the rational stuff anymore” Jeff Goodby

“if you’ve got the funding to do an ad, [TV is] still the one place you can get the biggest change in perception and appeal for your brand” Kevin Mayer

“there are two things brands have to do; they have to persuade and then they have to promote. digital technology has been brilliant at promotion, but if you’re not out there persuading, you’re not growing your brand … now, you can only do that with broadcast, because you don’t ultimately know where your audience is going to come from” Sir John Hegarty

“advertising expenditure globally is about $500bn a year. about $200bn of that goes on television. now, end of argument, alright?” Sir John Hegarty

“most of the money my clients spend is still on TV. I know that its very popular to think otherwise and go, you know, ‘what’s going on out there, there must be new things that we should be spending money on’ … and we end up spending on TV, just because it turns out to be the way to start something, the way to keep something going, the way to chance people’s minds” Jeff Goodby

“actually the internet kind of operates as an afterthought of the best TV commercials … people run to the internet to talk about them” Jeff Goodby

“as television evolves and becomes more targeted, I think you’re going to see an influx of dollars back into television because now you’re going to have efficiency and you’re going to have scale, and that’s where I think television is going to really see its second coming” Kevin Mayer

“we’re emotional creatures, and television is an emotional medium … it’s the most powerful selling tool advertisers have ever had at their disposal, and that ain’t changing – not for the foreseeable future” Sir John Hegarty

to say that some of those statements are subjective in the extreme is perhaps a bit of an understatement, and you could argue that’s fine if the piece was presenting itself as the subjective opinions of very respected industry professionals … but its not; Think TV’s description of the piece is “forward-thinking industry professionals reveal how television is rising to meet new marketing challenges with great success” (source) … which I actually think gets us into rather dangerous territory … because the success is pretty much ‘people saw my ad’, or ‘we emotionally engaged people’ or ‘lot’s of people spend lots of money on TV so it must work, alright’ …

now it’s easy to say that it’s “just a piece of video” or conversely that “these are the opinions of respected, and very successful, advertising men”, but don’t forget for a second this is just one grenade in an ongoing battle for communications revenues. this is about where brands invest marketing dollars – budgets that are increasingly under scrutiny by the companies that invest that money. and we’re not talking about spare change … the video’s own stats point out that $200bn is spent on TV – I think we’re going to have to do a little better to justify that than because television is “an emotional medium”.

it perhaps is no co-incidence that we receive this gem in the same week that online ad revenues overtook those for free-to-air TV. according to a report by the PwC for the AIB, (available to subscribers here), for the first six months of 2013 our industry in Australia invested $1,883m in online versus $1,805m investment in FTA TV.

the size of your spend isn’t of course everything. but it does count for a lot.

I like television. as a planner I value the role television can play in a plan. it delivers reach, often cost-effectively, and it delivers that scale quickly. and whilst, unlike Kevin Mayer, I probably wouldn’t describe the future of television as a “second coming”, I am excited by the opportunities that critical mass in connected TVs will bring.

but there’s a dangerous myopia in this 2020 Vision. statements like “digital technology has been brilliant at promotion, but if you’re not out there persuading, you’re not growing your brand” (Hegarty) or “the internet kind of operates as an afterthought” Goodby, do far less for TV’s case than embracing and exploring – say – the possibilities presented by digital storytelling and how they will be possible, with scale, in 2020 would have achieved.

a very wise man once told be to never let my strategy show. so when a video selling the benefits of TV says that “the great thing about TV … is that it allows you to go around the rational objections to a product … so that they don’t think about the rational stuff anymore” … I wonder whether we don’t need a whole load more rational as we mediate this ongoing debate.

featured image is a still from the above video of Volkswagen’s Darth Vader spot in Super Bowl XLV

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