We are communicating in a media landscape that is dynamic and fragmented, and the days of disseminating a singular message through one main media channel are far behind us.
The challenge is how to harness opportunities in this market and better reach and engage with consumers in a world flooded with distractions and multiple brand messages.
Most agencies now recognise that an integrated approach - in which everyone along the food chain works together - with a consistent idea executed across multiple platforms not only increases a campaign's return on investment, but resonates to achieve genuine consumer engagement across all media platforms.
It is more important than ever to be able to demonstrate this ability to clients. As a result, partnerships between agency, client and media owner have evolved to respond to this rising demand. There are notable advantages for clients if media owners can develop effective integrated campaigns. We own the majority of our content and are well placed to exploit that content across all platforms to ensure a message has maximum exposure.
Twenty years' experience of commissioning programmes means we know what works with our audiences globally. With diverse programming genres at our disposal, from factual to lifestyle, our asset pool provides a rich and varied resource for our clients. We are, therefore, able to help our clients develop integrated campaigns that will drive ratings and reach their target consumers as the number one non- fiction media company. We have a global audience and we can deliver it.
As the media landscape has changed, media owners have had to develop expertise in areas that have traditionally been the responsibility of the agencies. The arena in which we work has been extended to include high-definition, broadband, online, mobile, video-on-demand, events and licensing.
Not only that, but commissioning bespoke research has also risen up the agenda - in our case, that covers 25- to 39-year-old men in the EMEA region. Right now, we have a research project that we believe to be the most comprehensive lifestyle study ever undertaken among young men. It encompasses ten markets and identifies compelling attitudes and behaviours that unify and divide young men in the 21st century. The findings will be released in the first quarter of 2008.
In response to the rising demand for integrated solutions, we have restructured our ad sales business across the region. In June, we created a dedicated idea-generation hub for our pan-regional clients: the brand partnerships team is based in London and acts as a conduit into Discovery's multimedia platforms. The team has a collective 50 years' experience in production, marketing and branding, and is the interface between creative and commercial teams, generating integrated ideas and responding to market briefs.
Likewise, acknowledging the demanding executional requirements of such partnerships, we have created a dedicated multimedia arm within our integrated communications planning group. Tasked with project management of all deal components, the team ensures optimum service levels and flawless delivery to our clients. Some of the special projects we have worked on in the past year, with clients such as Nokia, Toyota and Philips, ably demonstrate our approach to integration.
'PUSHING BOUNDARIES' WITH TOYOTA
In 2006, Toyota approached Discovery with a brief to communicate its involvement in Formula One to a broader audience. The challenge was to increase brand awareness across all key international markets via a non-traditional campaign, emphasising Toyota's unique approach of pushing boundaries, continuous improvement and teamwork.
An exclusive F1 programme - The Anatomy of an F1 Team - formed the basis of the campaign. The programme was supported by sponsorship credits, a series of bespoke programming vignettes, a commercial spot campaign and off-air extensions. Press, print, PR, online, broadband and retail DVD offerings were also rolled out across 20 markets.
More than one million viewers viewed the programme, and 60 per cent of the focus group respondents agreed the campaign had a "positive effect on my perception towards Toyota".
'MAKING CONNECTIONS' WITH NOKIA
Nokia wanted to encourage current and competitive users to upgrade to the Nokia 3G handsets, contributing to its long-term strategy to become the first mobile brand with which consumers have a truly emotional connection.
The campaign concept was simple: "Bring people together, make the world more accessible, more connected and closer to you."
Nokia needed a partner with a comprehensive reach across Europe, which could emotionally engage a diverse audience of hip adults aged 25 to 39. In response, our in-house creative team developed a multimedia brand solution to demonstrate the benefits of 3G and engage viewers through storytelling.
A fully integrated campaign was created, including 30-second commercials, programming vignettes and a dedicated microsite. The programming vignettes were short films inspired by real-life stories that showed how technology benefits communication, including new methods such as social networking. Viewers were also asked to send in their own ideas for short films on the topic, four of which were aired on the Discovery Channel.
The campaign was a success. More than 20 million adults viewed the commercials, 11 million accessed the website and the programming vignettes won three World Promax Awards.
'CREATING A VISUAL RECORD OF OUR WORLD' WITH PHILIPS
Philips approached Discovery with a brief to position it as a market leader in high-definition consumer electronics and to showcase its Ambilight HD Flat-Screen TV.
The Discovery team developed a multimarket on- and off-air creative campaign to tackle this challenge. First, a multimedia sponsorship of Discovery's flagship travelogue series Atlas was arranged across 15 European markets. This was supported by a specially created short film, charting the technical evolution of television, a commercial spot campaign and a viewer competition.
High-definition content from the Atlas series was given to Philips to load into its Ambilight HD Flat-Screen TVs for use in-store and at trade fairs throughout Europe.
Joint marketing, press and PR activity ensured that more than one million consumer brochures were distributed across Europe, and the campaign reached more than 38 million adults. In addition, 18.8 million viewers watched Discovery Atlas across Europe, with 56 per cent opting to receive more information about Philips products and one in three likely to consider the Philips TV range as a result.
- Jules Robinson is the vice-president, international ad sales, EMEA of Discovery Networks Europe.