In my opinion, the most effective advertising today is the product of creative and media teams working together to surprise people.
The kind of ads that people will talk about, and even bring other people to see it. The brand message doesn’t have to be new, but the delivery of the message has to be surprising. You must make people feel your message, not just understand it, and people can only feel those messages when creative and media professionals share the same bed.
Total communication planning is the latest concept buzzing around the media industry, and a number of clients have already embraced this idea. In order to deliver a powerful advertising message to a target market, creative work and a media strategy need to complement each other.
Who wouldn’t want this from their agencies? So why is it that there is resistance from some creative and media agencies which prevents them from working together?
Ultimately, we’re all assessed by our clients according to how well we perform. Have we met our client’s business objectives? Did we generate enough awareness for a campaign? Did we improve sales and change consumer perceptions of a product? A media agency working at odds with their creative partners won’t work effectively — no matter how much is spent. It’s time to tear down the defences and share our expertise in making the brand the hero – not individual agencies or people.
Of course we know all that, but why does it happen so rarely ? In India we call ourselves professionals but my cue says we aren’t. We are still in the mode where both creative and media agencies are taking pot shots against each other and the underlying truth is that all of us are more interested in who takes the credit first and who makes the first claim on the entry for awards.
I strongly believe that there can only be two people who integrate a common offering from the creative, media and the specialist agencies. The first one is a strong client who mandates integration and does not differentiate one agency from the other. The other is, in a sense, the Brand Team Leader who leads from the front in the integration process, the one who drives the ownership of Brand Stewardship.
I am convinced that awards is the bugbear today, and my suggestion is two-fold.
1. If you have a client who truly believes that all agencies have an equal seat at the top of the table – he then mandates than none of his agencies ever enter any of his work for awards! That scuttles the one- upmanship by any of his agencies forever.
2. The various awards committees in the future, will have to accept joint entries and begin to award them together as one entry. We need to moot this option today because the world and the media environment is changing dramatically.
Fast-forward five years. The media landscape has changed irreversibly. ‘Traditional’ and ‘new’ media have blurred into one. Advertising has morphed into ad-funded entertainment and much of what media agencies do now will be automated.
Agencies of the future will have to have stronger strategic planning capability and develop stronger understanding of the role and relationship between brands, channels and consumers. The agency of 2014 will need to offer clients psychological research, marketing investment and scenario planning tools, new product development resources and digital relationship managers.
In that not too distant future, would clients ever tolerate petty squabbles between agencies that work for his brands?
I, for one, don’t think so.
Pratap Bose is CEO, Mudra Max and COO, Mudra Group.