It was refreshing to hear Rupert Howell talk about media in his
inaugural speech as the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s
Refreshing because although the IPA has been welcoming media agencies
into its embrace for years, there’s still sometimes a sense that media
is ring-fenced. No creative agency person has any role on the media
policy group and there’s little sense of dialogue between the media and
creative agency members.
Howell is right to highlight the problems of an advertising industry
where media and creative each has little experience of the other’s
As memories of the full-service agency grow dimmer, Howell says: ’There
is a generation of media people growing up who have never directly
experienced the process of producing a good creative idea.’
Well, in my experience, having media on your business card doesn’t imply
a creative lobotomy, but I think I know what Howell means - seeing at
close hand a piece of creative work develop from conception through to
execution is beyond the experience of most of today’s young media
There is a new generation of planners and creatives ’whose only
experience of media is their own consumption of it,’ to quote Howell
Creating advertising for interactive TV or niche TV channels, deciding
to switch adspend from, say, press to PR or TV to posters, advising
clients on advertiser-supplied programming or sports and broadcast
sponsorship all require a real understanding of media alternatives,
media consumption and a regular dialogue with media owners.
So it’s hardly surprising that more and more clients are turning to
their media companies to be their partners in the communications
process. Such relationships are the progeny of an increasingly
complicated media scene, but also reflect the growing sophistication of
media companies across a broader range of communications solutions.
But many creative folk I meet still don’t get it. They labour under the
illusion that the demise of the full-service agency simply means the
removal of an office full of loudmouths in bad suits who trade media as
I can’t quite work out whether it’s bravura, disingenuousness or sheer
ignorance, but many still believe that losing their grip on media poses
no threat to their long-term future. Creative agencies continue to play
down the importance of media at their peril and Howell’s comments ought
to send shivers down the spine.
The IPA is proposing to use training and job swapping to help bridge the
media/creative gap - not a bad idea, if somewhat overdue. But if bridges
are to be built, creative agencies need to understand that the flow of
traffic has changed.
Media agencies are increasingly driving the advertising process.