CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/1999 REVIEW - The year that adland took digital media seriously. Key industry figures talk to Campaign about what they felt were 1999’s hot issues

All the talk has turned to action this year as new media has made a tangible impact across the entire advertising industry. And it’s not just the net-heads who are tangled up in the worldwide web - industry figures across the board are wrestling with the relevance of the wired world.

All the talk has turned to action this year as new media has made a

tangible impact across the entire advertising industry. And it’s not

just the net-heads who are tangled up in the worldwide web - industry

figures across the board are wrestling with the relevance of the wired


Our panel has interpreted new media’s coming of age as a positive


Brands are more important than ever and advertising budgets are

expanding to accommodate the influx of new companies, all vying to

become household names.

Television’s fight to remain a truly mass medium also proved to be an

abiding memory of the year.

Traditional advertising seems to have been temporarily eclipsed while

the media map preoccupies many minds.

Even Andy McLeod, the only creative director that we consulted, looked

beyond advertising to the world of pop videos to find his highlight of


PETER MEAD, honorary chairman of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and vice-

chairman of Omnicom.

The most significant thing about this year for me was how it began with

lots of earnest young men running internet companies telling us that the

existing ways of doing things were old hat.

Yet it has ended with media inflation fuelled by the sheer numbers of

those companies running conventional advertising. Three of them will

even be running TV ads during the SuperBowl.

This is enormously important because, despite the arrival of all this

marvellous technology which was going to make us redundant, it hasn’t

proved to be the case. Quite the reverse.

People can’t touch and feel these companies. Only through advertising

can they do that. Far from making brands less important, this year’s

internet explosion proves that they are more important than ever


ROB FURNESS, head of marketing services at Orange.

New media has had a great impact on the advertising industry but not in

the way that we anticipated.

About a year to 18 months ago, we were all concerned about how we would

divert our advertising budget into new media with things like websites

and banner ads.

But what is ironic is that new media has entered our world - the world

of conventional media - rather than the other way around. Virtually

every ad you see in newspapers, magazines and on TV is for a dotcom

company. So although we have more outlets for advertising messages, we

have increasing competition for space on TV and therefore greater

pressure on price - an important and unexpected outcome.

In the future, the challenge to stand out will become even greater and

it is then that we will see more experimentation and increased

convergence within new-media advertising.

ANDY MCLEOD, joint creative director at Fallon McElligott.

Hammer & Tongs’s promo for Blur’s Coffee and TV - not an ad, but a

highlight nevertheless. It’s only a few minutes long but it’s long

enough to draw you into the storyline and make you empathise with the

characters. Even though they’re milk cartons.

There are gasps of shock when the girl carton gets squashed. And not a

dry eye in the house when they meet up in heaven at the end.

It’s just a sweet idea for a great track, executed with exactly the

right level of humour. And you can bet your Christmas bonus that the

Hammer & Tongs fax machine is whirring away with scripts coming in

featuring walking FMCGs of every description.

SHOLTO DOUGLAS-HOME, director of marketing communications for the

Millennium Experience.

I think the most significant issue of the year has been the changes

within ITV in terms of programming scheduling and management. The

interest that’s been shown in them reinforces just how important mass TV

remains as well as the fact that we still have the best quality

broadcast brands in the world.

You only have to recall how much debate has gone on this year over the

moving of News at Ten to understand how much this means to people. With

so much other TV news programming on the BBC and Sky, it’s extraordinary

that this should have provoked so much controversy.

The year has also shown that ITV has the people to deliver quality


While there are still some weak spots in the slot vacated by News at

Ten, ITV’s Nightly News is proving to be excellent.

DAVID MAGLIANO, marketing director of GO.

I think there were two crucial events affecting the advertising industry

this year.

Firstly, the success of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? shows that

commercial TV still has the ability to create a ’water cooler moment’

(when people gather around to talk about it the next day at work). It’s

important for commercial TV that, despite the onslaught of media

fragmentation, it can still command huge audiences.

But probably of more significance in the future will be Greg Dyke, with

his commercial background, taking over at the BBC. He is a threat to

commercial TV, radio and online with his aggressive approach to making

the BBC an attractive, well-run broadcaster. He is also likely to be

more open to using the assets of the BBC for commercial gains.

JASON GOODMAN, joint managing director of BMP Interaction.

1999 will be remembered as the year when digital media went mainstream

and quality played second fiddle to the sheer quantity of start-ups.

It was also the year clients stopped asking if online advertising was

really necessary, and started making it a priority. And it heralded the

first time that cabbies stopped staring into the distance with a glazed

look after asking me my profession, and started telling me about the

great deal they recently got on

Looking back in years to come, no-one will remember who did a great

banner campaign in 1999. The outstanding memory will be the sheer

explosion of online communications.

No exceptional work shines from the year purely because no-one has had

the time to do anything really clever. The whole industry has gone to

market so fast, and it has been one exhilarating ride.