Background Unless you have spent the last three years on Mars, it
will not have escaped your notice that the Millennium Dome is hot
Despite the recent appointment of chief executive Pierre Yves Gerbeau -
who, depending on who you speak to, may or may not be the man behind the
rescue of Disneyland Paris - press criticism of this monument to mankind
has been fierce.
As Gerbeau is only too aware, half the battle is to create more positive
reviews of the Dome. With visitors generally coming away with favourable
impressions, the word-of-mouth factor should take effect soon. But chats
over the garden fence are unlikely to be enough to turn around the
Dome’s image problem, and a look at the advertising spend over the past
year suggests the media spend could do with a big boost.
Media agency Walker Media is handling media planning and buying.
Director Andrew Sherman oversees the account while planning and buying
is carried out by Samantha Hale and Kara Clarkson. M&C Saatchi is
responsible for creative.
Total spend and the media mix The New Millennium Experience Company
spent just pounds 7.5 million on advertising in 1999, a very small
amount considering the company is trying to defend a pounds 758 million
investment in a completely new brand. Despite the NMEC’s continued
problems with editorial coverage, press accounted for 45 per cent of
spend. It was followed by TV (41 per cent), outdoor (11 per cent) and
radio (3 per cent).
Spend details National newspapers took 88 per cent or pounds 2.9 million
of press adspend. Regionals and magazines received only pounds 210,000
each. The Sunday Times was the biggest beneficiary, landing more than
pounds 1.55 million of the budget. That is more than any other single
media owner, including the television stations.
Others landing sizeable sums included The Sun with pounds 180,000 and
The Daily Mail with pounds 120,000.
TV expenditure was split 13 per cent/87 per cent between satellite and
terrestrial. Radio spend was spread relatively thinly across 44
stations, with Capital 95.8 FM attracting the most. London took more
than half of the spend on outdoor advertising.
The timing of advertising in 1999 is interesting, with the NMEC spending
twice as much in February as it did in November and December, and with
spend for the last quarter of 1999 (pounds 2.8 million) only slightly
higher than that for the first quarter (pounds 2.6 million).
Conclusions Perhaps the NMEC was relying on widespread coverage in the
press to attract visitors. Maybe it assumed the Dome would be so
over-booked that advertising was unnecessary. Perhaps it trusted in the
old adage that any publicity is good publicity. Or maybe the company
simply ran out of cash. Whatever the reason, the NMEC must up its
adspend or face the consequences.
Research by AC Nielsen MMS, telephone: 01344-627553