Media: Double Standards - 'No man is an island in terms of media thinking'

The need to create campaigns to run across many platforms has led to a change in the nature of the relationship between clients and their media agencies.

DANIEL SALEM, HEAD OF PARTNERSHIPS, VIACOM BRAND

- Is it true that the best media thinking is now coming from media owners?

It's certainly true that proactive media owners have either developed or acquired the skills to respond better to briefs. As a consequence, they've been able to nurture better relationships with their agency counterparts and clients. Viacom Brand Solutions has made a significant contribution to media thinking in the form of bespoke creative partnerships and, in the past six years, this area of the business has grown and now accounts for more than 10 per cent of our revenue.

- Who now owns the client relationship?

At the end of the day, the best clients have been able to organise people and resources around them so no-one owns a relationship, but everyone has ownership of one central strategy.

- How has collaboration between media owners and agencies improved?

These days, the relationship is about dialogue and greater candour in relation to objectives and strategies. This is in stark contrast to ten years ago, when the "brief" was a one-line description of a target audience and three-day turnaround.

- Are media agency people now constantly too busy to develop good ideas?

No ... but some agencies' structures and resources are more directed towards idea-generation than others.

- How important is it for a media owner to have a "creative solutions" department?

It's more about fostering the culture that's able to generate great ideas. If you have to call it a "creative solutions department", then fine. However, this can cause resentment in other departments! Creative thinking is not the preserve of people with "creative" in their title.

- Can these sales teams really offer media-neutral ideas?

Yes ... with collaboration from competing media owners in the form of RSVP, this has been proven and effectively delivered across a range of campaigns.

- What's the best example of a partnership you've had with an agency/media owner?

We have produced more than 300 pieces of creative work over the past year with a wide variety of agencies, so it would be difficult to highlight the best.

- Are media owners making money from developing their own creative solutions?

Yes, definitely. By delivering media in a different form from commodity-traded advertising solely led by coverage and frequency models, it gives those who do it well an additional revenue stream.

- What's the best piece of work your company has created recently?

Our current activity with Snickers looks great and centres on 60-second pieces that parody Barrio 19, an urban sport show on MTV. Free running has never looked so easy.

- Do you see the relationship between the media agency and advertiser changing? If so, how?

Definitely. Broadcast media and the return this provides is still key to many brands. As we engage with audiences through more personalised communication, then the opportunities that this affords lends itself to a more collaborative and partnership-driven relationship between all three parties.

Where do you get your best ideas from?

The car, the kids and my team.

MARIE OLDHAM, STRATEGY DIRECTOR, MEDIA PLANNING

- Is it true that the best media thinking is now coming from media owners?

In the world of great media thinking, "no man is an island". We believe that media owners are much better at understanding their product, and particularly the innovation that technology can bring. However, media agencies need to bring a clear brief, consumer insight and creative thinking to the party, in order to jointly identify and exploit the right property/territory.

- Who now owns the client relationship?

The agency. There is nothing to be gained in fighting over the client relationship. Clients employ experts and we should work together to deliver client needs.

- How has collaboration between media owners and agencies improved?

Open doors, a willingness to work together and the recruitment of good people, whose responsibility is to make things happen.

- Are media agency people now constantly too busy to develop good ideas?

Possibly, but only if we let it. Good leadership and a vision that understands the importance of working together can help to overcome barriers.

- How important is it for a media owner to have a "creative solutions" department?

Integration between sales, programming and technology teams is what matters. Creative solutions teams can facilitate this, but some media owners have the team and not the integration and, therefore, fail anyway.

- Can these sales teams really offer media-neutral ideas?

In general, media owners are not working alone. It should be a collaboration with the communications planners to develop strategies and communications platforms. However, with cross-media brands, the owners are capable of coming up with a brilliant idea which fits in with the core property and executed across a number of platforms.

- What's the best example of a partnership you've had with an agency/media owner?

Orange cinema gold spot, our recent work on Magners outdoor with Posterscope, or Intel Wi-fi for Dummies would be on my shortlist.

- Are media owners making money from developing their own creative solutions?

Well, obviously. The objective is to achieve commercial benefit for both media owner and the client, and to ensure a healthy future. Media owners need to extend revenues beyond advertising.

- What's the best piece of work your company has created recently?

The Magners out-of-home campaign. This is executed across a number of media channels, but by working closely with media owners and intermediaries, the creative idea is brought to life brilliantly in each channel, but works together to form a cohesive campaign.

- Do you see the relationship between the media agency and advertiser changing? If so, how?

Broader, deeper, richer.We need to understand our clients' businesses, and work with them through the convergence and divergence of communications channels, to identify how best to achieve a return on investment in communications, in the short, medium and long term.

- Where do you get your best ideas from?

Observing real people. The day media people lose their understanding of real people, we're in big trouble.

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