COMMENT: Are bosses ready to talk new media in the boardroom?

I’ve had it with this holiday lark, I can tell you. You go away for two weeks and first, my substitute columnist, Harriet Green, ignores Mills’s Golden Rule - never write an ironic column because there’s always some idiot who doesn’t get it.

I’ve had it with this holiday lark, I can tell you. You go away for

two weeks and first, my substitute columnist, Harriet Green, ignores

Mills’s Golden Rule - never write an ironic column because there’s

always some idiot who doesn’t get it.



Second, you return to find your column has moved from the centre to this

slot. ’Ah,’ colleagues say, ’you were always complaining about the

deadline for that page so we thought you’d appreciate being moved to a

later deadline.’ Last, you write about ads/media you saw on your

holiday.



Only I went to Portugal and didn’t see a single ad worth writing

about.



So I thought I’d return with a serious subject - new media - where

something dramatic seems to be happening, according to a well-informed

colleague (the editor of Revolution, actually). It is this: that new

media is rapidly rising up the corporate agenda and into the

boardroom.



Another way of putting this is to say that new media is no longer a toy

for the marketing department to experiment with - the sort that sees

pounds 50,000 allocated to a tiny project so marketing staff can get a

feel for the process - but it’s now a serious business issue. And why

not? After all, if you think about it, the potential applications of new

media in e-commerce alone can turn a company’s business upside down and

lead it to rethink everything it does.



If you doubt me, just look at Procter & Gamble, which last week

announced it was inviting a selection of new-media heavies to a

cross-industry pow-wow in Cincinnati. Its purpose: to make the internet

a credible medium as quickly as possible. And it’s all the more

remarkable because the initiative is being led by P&G, legendary for not

knowing the meaning of co-operation.



Of course, you don’t have to be a genius to figure out that P&G has its

own agenda, which is to reduce its dependence on TV advertising with all

that that means for its dollars 3 billion US ad budget, not to mention

its natural desire to match Unilever’s recent ground-breaking deal with

America Online and Microsoft. But, nonetheless, the P&G initiative

signals that new media has reached that crucial take-off point.



But if new media is now a boardroom issue, are new-media agencies

equipped to talk about it in the boardroom? Judging by the ones I have

met, the answer is no. So who is? Well, obviously, the management

consultants but, since this is also an advertising and marketing issue,

it ought to offer ad agencies the perfect chance to grab back some of

the strategic high ground.



Except, that when you think of it, there aren’t that many agency

chairmen and chief executives who can enter the boardroom and hold a

conversation for longer than two minutes about new media. Ah well,

another missed opportunity



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