MEDIA PERSPECTIVE: Media bid to make bits between ads may benefit us all

There’s a hoary old cliche about the ads on television being better than the programmes. With audience levels for some of the main commercial channels falling, it’s possible that this platitude may well have a more than a little veracity these days.

There’s a hoary old cliche about the ads on television being better

than the programmes. With audience levels for some of the main

commercial channels falling, it’s possible that this platitude may well

have a more than a little veracity these days.



Traditionally, of course, it’s the agency creative departments that

blush with pride at the suggestion. Some of them have even been

encouraged to launch their own programme production teams. First there

was Simons Palmer with the Mission, then St Luke’s decided to have a go

and open its own production unit.



Neither of the two companies has exactly got the programming luvvies

quaking in their Patrick Cox loafers but, always quick to spot a trend,

the media strategists, Michaelides & Bednash, are now piling in to give

it a go.



A lot of the traditional media agencies will already be groaning that

this is just more pretentious wank from the M&B camp.



After all, there’s a whole industry of people who make TV programmes and

as anyone who’s ever been to the Edinburgh Television Festival will

testify, the void between the programming and commercial sides of the TV

industry is still, sadly, colossal.



But M&B’s ambitions lie outside the commercial box. For a start, the new

venture has absolutely nothing to do with advertising or clients. This

is not about the oh-so-now advertiser-supplied-programming thing. It’s

simply about coming up with ideas for programmes that people might quite

like to watch. Making the shows will be left to the experts.



Again, why should M&B be better placed than the programme makers

themselves to work out what we want to see when we collapse on the sofa

each evening?



Their answer is that its expertise in tracking consumer behaviour and

predicting trends gives it a real insight into what we want, not only

from our consumer goods and the way they are advertised, but from our

media - or, for that matter, any other aspect of our lives.



It’s not exactly a new phenomenon: media agency turned media owner.

Robert Ditchum and Adam Stanhope, big cheeses at Initiative Media until

a couple of years ago, threw it all in and are now proud owners of their

own cable channel, Rapture, targeting the youth market and doing it

rather well, by all accounts.



Whether or not M&B’s initiative comes to anything more than a couple of

nice press articles about what a forward-thinking company they are, we

shall see in a year or so’s time.



But what’s certainly true is that media companies are increasingly

better placed than their creative counterparts to understand consumer

behaviour and demands. And if that translates into better television

programmes (or magazines, newspapers and so on), then all the better for

the advertising industry in general.



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