PERSPECTIVE: Evolutions in media sector dilute impact of press campaigns

Talk Radio has appointed TBWA GGT Simons Palmer to handle the station’s creative account without a competitive pitch. Thanks to all of you who called about our cloning by a rival magazine last week. Yes, our lawyers were watching, but that’s not much use when our lawyers are their lawyers! Suddenly, I understand conflict.

Talk Radio has appointed TBWA GGT Simons Palmer to handle the

station’s creative account without a competitive pitch.



The decision comes after TBWA created a press ad for Talk Radio earlier

this month to promote a radio phone-in featuring Tony Blair and Gordon

Brown fielding questions on the Budget.



Kelvin MacKenzie, chief executive of Talk Radio, said of TBWA: ’I like

the speed with which they move. They were particularly impressive when

we had Tony Blair and Gordon Brown come in and they had a full-page ad

ready to go by six o’clock that day.’



Paul Bainsfair, chairman of TBWA, said: ’Kelvin’s enthusiasm is totally

infectious. We are looking forward to helping him make Talk Radio a big

success.’



TBWA replaces Walsh Trott Chick Smith, Talk Radio’s agency of record

since 1996. The station built up a history of controversial advertising

with Walsh Trott, and last October the Advertising Standards Authority

ruled that all its posters must be pre-vetted.



Talk Radio spent pounds 1.2 million on advertising in 1998 and says it

will spend around pounds 2 million over the next year.



Thanks to all of you who called about our cloning by a rival

magazine last week. Yes, our lawyers were watching, but that’s not much

use when our lawyers are their lawyers! Suddenly, I understand

conflict.



Meanwhile, if you had shelled out pounds 500,000 for Larry Barker in the

CampaignLive Fantasy Agency League, then you might have thought the

title was yours after BMP DDB’s outstanding performance at the Campaign

Press Awards last night. But two small points: the league season hasn’t

begun yet; and runaway early leaders can come down to earth with a bump

- just ask a Villa fan.



It is unlikely that BMP will blow up, such has been its recent

consistency.



Even more remarkable is the ability of successive Volkswagen clients to

commission and support daring and effective creativity. In any other

year, ’protected species’ would surely have cleaned up, but this year

belonged to ’wedding’ and ’fish and chips’.



I thought the biggest press winners were terrific - not least because I

recall being stopped dead in my tracks seeing them in their original

context. But beyond the cream, how much impact does press advertising

currently have on the public, particularly when other media are so

powerful?



Contrast this with the commercials sector, where since this year’s BTAAs

there have already been the new Guinness, NSPCC and The Sunday Times

films to prove that the traditional 40- or 60-second commercial still

has a huge place in the media landscape. Each transcends its status as a

commercial to be genuinely provocative, moving and memorable. On posters

too, the ’fcuk’ campaign and current Territorial Army ’lenticular’ work

has achieved the same cut-through - if not at the same emotional

level.



There hasn’t been a recent press execution that has achieved the same

impact. This may simply be because all the latest work is dreadful, but

I don’t think this is true. Instead, it may be a result of three

distinct developments, not necessarily negative.



The first is the increasing use of press ads as a response vehicle, but

this is not new. The second is that much press advertising has become

inter-changeable with poster executions - often, but not exclusively, as

a six-sheet. Look at the winning VW, Adidas and Virgin work in the Press

Awards book of the night.



The third development is better media planning. Perhaps, given the

genuine proliferation of press media and particularly magazines, press

advertising is now better planned and less jarring. There is very rarely

a Benetton-style fuss. It is responsible certainly, and probably

effective - but there’s less noise. The advertising doesn’t make the

client’s budget go further through free editorial.



Perhaps the real conclusion is that what’s happening to press

advertising is proof that the changed media landscape, improved media

planning and genuinely integrated campaigns are making a real difference

to the ads - at last.



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