Feature

Double Standards - 'Keen media owners threaten to overwhelmus'

Nestle's media chief comes out in favour of CRR, while Unilever's wants media owners to broaden their minds.

STUART COX - MEDIA MANAGER, NESTLE UK AND IRELAND - Does size in your media agencies matter?

Size allows our current media agency, MindShare, to leverage its negotiations with media owners. However, it is important not to act as a simple monolith. All our negotiations are based on a bottom-up principle, adding together the plans of all our divisions and sister companies to arrive at media spends and media strategies which reflect their individual wishes.

- How are you facing up to changes in the digital world?

Nestle's spend in this medium has tripled year on year. We are also testing channels such as social networks and mobile and monitoring the sales uplift using our data and partners such as DunnHumby and Nielsen Homescan.

- Why does your company believe in having an in-house media team/manager?

Media spend is a major part of Nestle's overheads, so it is vital to have someone in charge of this spend (£85 million-plus per annum) who knows what he is doing and is not just an enthusiastic amateur or a marketing executive fulfilling the media role part-time.

- What does your role involve?

My team and I work closely with MindShare to put forward media plans and obtain the maximum value for the media budget. I also run the in-house media agency, Fairfield, which buys outdoor campaigns and trade press as well as creating media campaigns for small brands.

- How important is your relationship with media owners? Do you work with them closely?

I have close contact with media owners across the different types of media. This is a people business. If the media owners know me, what I stand for and want from them, as much as I know what they want from me, then this can only help Nestle achieve its media objectives.

- Name one thing you would like to change about the industry

The media industry can still be driven too much by short-termism. Sometimes there is a lack of recognition of the long-term commitment certain major advertisers have made to the different media.

- Is TV still as valuable as it has been in the past?

Our appreciation of the valuable role TV plays for us has not changed. I do share the concern expressed by other advertisers that ITV in particular needs to be a strong competitor to the BBC. However, we still need ITV to operate within a controlled trading environment.

- Which medium markets itself best to you and who have you been most impressed by?

Most media owners have got their acts together these days. Indeed, we have to limit somewhat the number of meetings we have with media owners or we would be overwhelmed, such is their enthusiasm.

- How did you come to do this job?

This was the sort of job that I spotted while working for advertising agencies - definitely a job for the latter years of one's career, because it means I get to ask all those difficult questions I used to have to answer.

- Do you rely heavily on auditors?

No, with the amount of media experience and expertise in Nestle's media department we do not need to rely on media auditors.

- What do you like to do away from the office?

Golf is the industry's game of choice, and it's mine too, so that I can mix business and pleasure at industry golf days. I'm also a dedicated follower of that financially struggling football club called Chelsea. Last, but not least, I enjoy getting away from business pressures by taking holidays. in exotic destinations. NIGEL COWLIN - HEAD OF MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS IN THE UK AND IRELAND, UNILEVER

- Does size in your media agencies matter?

MindShare, Unilever's media agency, is certainly one of the biggest in the UK - but size isn't everything. The most important criteria for us are the quality, breadth and depth of an agency's resources. The key is the people - their commitment, expertise, creativity and team-working skills. Tools and research are also crucial.

- How are you facing up to changes in the digital world?

Unilever has set up a central digital team to work alongside strategic planners and we are increasing spend in this area.

- Why does your company believe in having an in-house media team/manager?

Three reasons: scale, complexity and because consumer communication is critical to the success of our brands' marketing plans. Unilever was the UK's biggest advertiser in 2005, spending £222 million, so it's one of our biggest investments. Unilever needs this to be expertly managed.

- What does your role involve?

Main responsibilities cover integrated 360-degree strategic planning; deals with media owners; communications research; training and responsibility for particular pan-European initiatives.

- How important is your relationship with media owners? Do you work with them closely?

These relationships are fundamentally important and we devote considerable time to them. Discussions are not just about the basics of airtime or space, but about the exchange of added-value ideas. Good relationships are the key to unlocking potential.

- Name one thing you would like to change about the industry

I'd like media owners to give more consideration to where their opportunity fits in the context of how advertisers could deploy their media budgets. Too often, they are overly concerned with their competitors within a medium.

- Is TV still as valuable as it has been in the past?

Television as a percentage of our budgets has declined as we push hard to deliver integrated strategic planning across all communication channels. That said, television still has a valuable role to play in the media mix for many of our brands.

- Which medium markets itself best to you and who have you been most impressed by?

The Radio Advertising Bureau would get my vote as a team that has stimulated genuine debate and provided good insight into radio.

- How did you come to do this job?

I won't give any chronology here to avoid divulging my age. However, my media experience spans two agencies and three advertisers.

- Do you rely heavily on auditors?

They play a role in giving us a valuable perspective on some aspects of our performance.

- What do you like to do away from the office?

Tennis is my main out-of-office passion. While still competitive, owing to a combination of old injuries and encroaching years, I now rely more on wily tactics than speed around the court.

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