I’ll Have 400 Ratings And A Side Of Fries, Please

Considering how fragmented the media landscape has become, it amazes me when I see planners still trying to sell in schedules where the majority of media spend is concentrated in TV. Time and again, I hear the same worn arguments for this approach – “This is the only way we’ll achieve frequency and recall”, “A 40″ TVC will achieve good cutthrough and get our audience talking”, “The client only understands TV and press so we have to give them the plan they want”. 

Yes, I’m being controversial, I know.

Call me jaded, but isn’t the point of media and advertising to sell clients’ products? And aren’t we supposed to find the most effective routes to selling our client’s products? So when average folk are hooking their computers into their TVs to watch the BBC iPlayer and using their PVRs to fast-forward through advertising, the ‘buy as many ratings and exposure as possible’ model becomes completely outdated in this age of engagement, interaction, conversations and content. You have to ask whether this model is really what’s going to sell products and services.

And what happens once you’ve blasted your audience with your message? Think of how many times you’ve said to your friends that you’re genuinely sick of seeing a certain TV ad and how annoying you’ve found it. What happens if there’s been no further communication from the brand apart from the ‘big’ TV campaign and a few press ads? All you’re left with is a negative feeling about the brand that you’ve passed on to your friends. 

There have been many planners that have posted about a better, more integrated, more engaging way of communicating and advertising, so I won’t retread old ground. My question here is: How do we educate the planners who are afraid to push back on clients, the planners who are so stuck in their ways and the planners who produce the least challenging schedules possible? 

There isn’t a one-sized fits all solution but the trend towards integrated planning and integrated media agencies is a good one. This ends the money grabbing of the individual departments and begins a focus on providing a solution that best fits the client’s business and marketing objectives. A ‘Team Client X’ works much better than a ‘Team Press’, ‘Team Digital’ and a ‘Team Planning’.

There is also the question of passion. Given that we work in such a dynamic, exciting and fast-moving industry, it’s frustrating to see people who are clearly disengaged and treading water working on important pieces of business. Acknowledging that you can’t force people to feel passion, I think it’s important to have senior people working in each planning team who are completely passionate, excited and engaged in the process and the task of creating the most effective and exciting campaign possible for clients. If they’re passionate enough, then this will trickle down to the rest of the team and should result in much better and more effective planning.

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4 thoughts on “I’ll Have 400 Ratings And A Side Of Fries, Please

  1. Good post!

    Are some of the problems structural? Do you think agencies could be more effective if they trained poly-skilled workers with knowledge of many media types that formed teams dynamically around clients, with managers being chosen for expertise not specialism in one media type? I’m thinking of having a ‘big-client’ manager rather than say ‘Head of Digital’, managers could form teams from people with the right talents measured only against the client’s expectations, not the need to get a bigger slice of the pie for their department. It seems like current organizational patterns don’t fit well with the world now.

  2. Why?

    Well, controversially, I think because it’s so EASY to suggest an offering which is rooted in TV or press. The largely TV centric creative agency doesn’t get cross, the client doesn’t get challenged.

    And it’s happening in digital media as well – the media/creative agency justifies spending money on a certain site because of out-moded metrics such as dwell time and click through, not engagement, because it’s ‘too hard’ to measure/create bespoke metrics for.

    I’m not sure if the trend towards integrated agencies is a good or bad thing; what i’d like to wage war on is lazy, echo chamber thinking.

    Btw, nice site – just stumbled across it..

  3. Will – Totally agree that it’s very easy for both the media and creative agencies when campaigns are focused in TV and press.

    So back to my question – How do we push back on this laziness and start getting people excited and passionate their jobs? How do we produce engaged and relevant thinking in an industry where people are already pushed to their limits with workload?

  4. Mark – that is indeed the big question and the direction many agencies are moving towards. Time will tell if this is the best model but it does make sense that departments and specialists work more closely together in this fragmented media age.

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