History, someone once said, is just the record of what one age finds interesting in another. If that's true, then the Channel 4 TV Planning Awards will have earned their place in media history. They throw a spotlight on the art of TV planning, a phenomenon that is obsessing our community. Campaign is proud to be associated with them.
Trying to establish where media as a specialist skill is today is not easy. It seems that media has come a very long way in many areas, but it is in danger of becoming disconnected from creativity and risks being squashed into a box that is just too small.
Meanwhile, challenges to advertising are everywhere: ad-avoidance technologies (such as personal video recorders), distribution of content over the internet, falling newspaper readership, satellite radio, consumers watching DVDs instead of visiting cinemas, and so on.
The truth is, these are marginal threats at the moment in most world media markets (and barely relevant in some), but they have to be taken seriously in the long term, and are already stimulating forward-thinking media owners, such as Channel 4, to come up with creative ways of reaching and stimulating their audiences, both consumer and trade.
In this awards scheme, there is no need for the media planner to qualify him or herself with the blunt huge numbers that they represent. Rather, they can try to explain the secrets of strategic planning through the 1,000-word essay - a whole new approach and, as the growing number of entries testify, an increasingly relevant one.
Finally, a few thank yous. First, to Channel 4's head of strategic sales, Mike Parker, and to its strategic sales manager, Peter Clark. They have displayed an enthusiasm for these awards that goes well beyond the call of duty. Thanks also to John Billett, who chaired the deliberations with remarkable tact, given the provocation of a hugely talented and opinionated jury. Enjoy the read.