America is loved and hated - sometimes by those closest to it. All
that is good and all that is bad are here in some degree, at some
America and New York in particular are places of individual dreams, many
of which are realised, many of which die. A media world without America
would be a bland place indeed, for here all things are tried and all
things are hoped for.
In attempting to contrast the US media model and the UK/European
version, I could not help but observe some similarities.
The Big are getting Bigger as media ownership and control are being
increasingly concentrated into fewer hands. Time-Warner Turner - now the
undisputed largest media company in the world - has approximately
dollars 21 billion of revenues and interests as far-reaching as the
meaning of the term ’media’ can be stretched. Theme parks, major sports
teams, film studios, TV stations, press, music labels, online services -
you name it, they probably have it.
Paradoxically, the media consumer is increasingly taking control and
becoming king. Media diversification and fragmentation abound (often as
not through those same large media groups). More specialist media
segments exist or have been created in America than anywhere else in the
world - every conceivable niche appears to be in some way catered for,
or about to be.
Not content with music channels, there is the Nashville Network. Not
only the Discovery Channel, but Discovery II ’Animal Planet’ which
promises only wildlife (African not New York variety). Not only
traditional fashion magazines, but Mode, a soon-to-be launched title
billing itself as America’s ’first fashion magazine to speak to
full-figured women with accuracy, intimacy and integrity’. Even though
some parts of Europe have 40-50 channel choices, most metro centres in
America have had more than 60-70 for years, thus making it the centre of
the remote-control universe.
All these are supported by an advertising industry which is worth in
excess of dollars 60 billion per annum. Consider this: the largest
single American advertiser alone spent more than dollars 1.5 billion
last year on domestic media.
These awesome sizes have created a very ’grown-up’ industry with high
degrees of specialisation. Specialists by market sector (i.e. cars,
telecoms, package goods), by target audience (i.e. children, teens,
grey), by media function (i.e. network broadcast, spot TV, magazines,
radio, research, new media, out-of-home, newspapers, direct
American media groups have always been expert at marketing value-added
media packages providing ’turn-key’ solutions, as it is phrased
However, the really exciting media game in town is how these ’media
partnership programmes’ can be leveraged further, for instance, in the
form of business marriages between large clients and media groups (such
as the McDonald’s and Disney alliance), and the creation of symbiotic
relationships which encompass all types of business and communication.
This is media unconfined by media as we in ad agencies know it, and is
what I’m trying to achieve.
Paul Woolmington, the former managing director of 20/20 Media, moved to
New York last year to become the worldwide head of media strategy at
Ammirati Puris Lintas.