Analysis: News Analysis - Inhouse media gurus provide point of contact for sales staff/Companies with their own media director offer a new channel

If Levi-Strauss’s hiring of Paul Bay as its first director of media planning and buying came as any surprise (Media Business, last week), it is that the company did not have one already. The move indicates a shift in direction for the fashion giant, but it also continues to blur the line between agencies, clients and media owners.

If Levi-Strauss’s hiring of Paul Bay as its first director of media

planning and buying came as any surprise (Media Business, last week), it

is that the company did not have one already. The move indicates a shift

in direction for the fashion giant, but it also continues to blur the

line between agencies, clients and media owners.



Bay says he has no plans to change the agency line-up, the keystone of

which is Motive, so Levi’s clearly isn’t worried about a lack of media

savvy. Its decision is more likely to be linked to a desire to take

charge of its brand identity.



Patrick Morrison, who heads the creative media unit at Manning Gottlieb

Media, comments: ’I think Levi’s is aware that it has been undermined by

the likes of Diesel and The Gap, and wants to regain the higher ground.

It is developing retail initiatives across Europe and if it is going to

reposition the brand, it needs to make sure its media strategy is spot

on.’



Morrison believes it is no coincidence that Bay will also get involved

in online activity. ’As the internet is a truly global medium, you have

to make sure it dovetails with the rest of your activities, otherwise

you could do all sorts of damage to your brand identity.’



Levi’s is not the first company to conclude that an inhouse media guru

is essential. Nike, Vauxhall, Procter & Gamble, Swatch and SmithKline

Beecham all have inhouse media people to squeeze maximum value out of

media budgets and match the buying strategy with brand-builders’ goals.

But what does this mean for the sales function? Does it enable sales

people to stick two fingers up at the media agencies and deal directly

with clients?



Well, yes and no. Martin Corke, group sales manager at IPC Music &

Sport, says: ’It depends on the client. Often, the inhouse media contact

acts as an interface between the brand managers and the agencies, taking

ideas and tuning the media strategy to reflect them.



’But some media directors are almost dictatorial with agencies, putting

a plan in place and then leaving them to execute it and collect the 15

per cent commission. Fashion clients, in particular, like to make

decisions themselves, based on their opinions of the ideal environment

for their brand.’



While sales people may not be able to leapfrog the agency and convince

an inhouse media director to put them on the schedule, they can argue

their case. ’It’s important not to be pushy, but they may see you on the

basis that it will be informative,’ Corke adds.



IPC also has a policy of approaching clients with an ’alternative’

schedule after the original plan has been executed, rather than trying

to get on at the front end. ’You give them a mock schedule and say,

’Last time you advertised on TV but this is how you could do it

differently’.’



Now he’s handling a fashion icon like Levi’s - however much competition

it may have - Bay can expect his phone to ring constantly.



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