The question of how media and creative should best work together continues to dominate so many of the conversations I have with clients, creative agencies and media owners.
My view is that the best way to deliver bold, defining media and creative work is to employ separate independent and entrepreneurial agencies that are mutually motivated to deliver the best possible work every single time (and, yes, sometimes with the catalyst being "constructive friction"). However, I appreciate that this is not for every client.
What is certain, however, is that, on a macro level, media and creative agencies have yet to crack how best to work together to produce amazing work for all parties.
So, while our respective agency communities try to sort it all out, what about the important but often forgotten media owners in all of this? After all, it’s where most of our endeavours and client budgets end up.
Which leads me on to another frequent conversation I’ve been having around the frustration experienced by media owners and creative agencies about how some network media agencies put a barrier between the former two. Media owners bemoan the fact that they can’t get through the "network media agency system" to speak to creative agencies and, on the other hand, many creative agencies express a frustration at their creativity being "strangled" before it even gets to the media owners.
There are clearly structural, cultural and commercial challenges here, and it’s not all the fault of the large buying shops. While media owners would ideally like to spend time with the independent creative agency scene, they haven’t got the resources or central agency conduits to make it efficient and commercially productive. In trying to address this, creative agencies are increasingly hiring media planners as their lead "account planner" and thus making connections with media easier.
On the other hand, for large media agencies focused on delivering quarterly productivity ratios and share deals via a refined internal process, spending time with creative agencies exploring hard-to-deliver, labour-intensive solutions is not high on their agenda.
But, given the importance of striving for more relevant and targeted communication to consumers, the potential for closer relationships between those who provide the content and the context seems enormous. So we thought we’d try to do something about it.
We wanted to create a marketplace event for media inspiration, creativity and possibility. Where the UK’s best independent creative agencies can meet the most inspiring media owners in an environment devoid of politics and share deals and where ECDs walk away with greater possibilities and CEOs build new commercial relationships.
And so our upcoming Media Showcase was born, where ten of the UK’s top media owners will pitch to an audience of independent creative agencies that are keen to be inspired by the creative possibilities of media. We felt it was essential to give the diverse and emerging plethora of creative opportunities that exist an airing in front of the right people.
Reaction from media owners and creative agencies has been encouraging. But there are those who have asked if we are starting to undermine the media agency model. If the only thing a media agency offers its clients is a "special relationship" with media owners, it is in trouble regardless of our Media Showcase.
Here’s to a great event and the first of many.
Andrew Stephens is a founding partner at Goodstuff Communications. The Media Showcase takes place at the Curzon Bloomsbury on 29 June.