Media: Double Standards - 'We're not trying to replicate old agency model'

Media and creative under one roof - isn't that all in the past? Two media creative experts reveal their new way of finding solutions for clients.

JODIE LOUIE SENIOR CREATIVE, LAB (INITIATIVE)

- Briefly describe your company.

In a complex world, we aim to provide a simple one-stop shop for advertisers' needs, with the added benefit of a real understanding of how communications work. From simple adaptation and trafficking, web design and rich media, right through to making ads, our in-house services are enhanced by this insight.

- What can you offer clients in terms of creative solutions?

We're very flexible and will happily be as small or as large a part of the campaign as the client requires. On the full-service side, we work closely with Initiative planners to build strong communication platforms, and then bring the ideas to life. We also write and produce most of the creative in-house, mainly in the areas of print and online. On the "odd jobs" side, it can be as simple as resizing an ad, arranging language translations or trafficking.

- Briefly describe some of your most exciting deals.

Winning the Jus-Rol account in a competitive pitch against other ad agencies was significant, particularly as it isn't an Initiative client. We've already run an online campaign, with a new print strategy and campaign appearing next year. Other recent highlights include the creation of online campaigns for J&J, the multimedia launch of the Usher fragrance and the work we have done for PwC. I still get excited when I see our work, no matter how small or big a part we played in the campaign.

- Should ad agencies fear competition from media agencies?

Yes and no. We don't create big-budget TV campaigns, but the way we have put our team together means we can turn around digital and print solutions much quicker than the traditional agencies. If we are a threat, it will be to some of the digital agencies. I think we can offer a much broader brand and strategic perspective, as well as delivering great digital content.

- What advantages do media agencies have over ad agencies in this area?

Working closely and collaboratively with media strategists and media owners is natural and easy for us. The "silo" mentality you hear about in the industry just doesn't exist with us. We encourage involvement from others and we're not precious about ideas because they don't have to come from us, the "creatives".

- How much have you invested in talent creative pools?

We're not trying to replicate the old ad agency model, but build a resource that's relevant for now and the future. Luckily for us, IPG has put significant investment into the Lab team and we're headed by Tony Manwaring as our creative director, but please stop calling him one of the most creative men in media - it's going to his head!

- How important will "doing creative" be for media agencies in the future

For us, it's already important. It's something that can help differentiate Initiative from the competition, as well as creating new ways to make money. We have come about through client demand, so there is real recognition of the importance of having a creative process that's joined up with media.

- What's the best thing about your job?

I legitimately get to have two really big screens, play bad music a bit too loudly and wear anything I want. "It's OK," they say, "she's creative."

STEVE BALL MANAGING DIRECTOR, CREATIVE SOLUTIONS (MEC)

- Briefly describe your company.

We are a team of production experts. We handle our clients' individual requirements, broadcast, non-broadcast and online creative and production services. Our range of services have developed to include managing, trafficking, producing, translating and adapting work for a variety of national and international clients.

- What can you offer clients in terms of creative solutions?

We have broadcast and non-broadcast departments that offer creative origination and/or adaptation in both these areas. On the broadcast side, we have created ads from scratch, but the bulk of our broadcast work is adapting copy for the UK and European markets, copy clearance, re-voicing, editing for different commercial lengths and ensuring supplied material is to the correct spec. On the non-broadcast side, we have an in-house studio. Creating and/or adapting work online and offline, press and out of home, plus digital and bulk print.

- Briefly describe some of your most exciting deals.

Best projects have included developing a consumer press campaign for Jacuzzi UK, which included writing and designing six creative executions and supplying all ads to titles. Pan-European press ad campaigns for Speedo. Working with MEC Access on all the collateral for Evian's Wimbledon Sponsorship (flags all over Wimbledon village, on-court fridges, taxi branding, hospitality etc).

- Should ad agencies fear competition from media agencies?

The majority of our work comes from areas where ad agencies aren't very active, such as event production, or often choose not to be involved, like multi-market adaptation, so they should be fearful of anyone that adds value and helps make the process run smoothly.

- What advantages do media agencies have over ad agencies in this area?

The advantages are twofold. First, our closer connection to the media buyers means clients save on their media and on their production costs by being responsive to changes in the market. Second, being in-house means it's easy for us to work collaboratively with those involved in the ideas part of our business and help them visualise their concepts.

- How much have you invested in talent creative pools?

We occupy the role similar to that of a producer so don't employ full-time creatives, but use a raft of freelance talent, dependent on what area of the business our client is in.

- How important will "doing creative" be for media agencies in the future

As more of our offer is delivered through engagement activity such as event creation, sponsorship, online communities etc rather than just buying media, being able to execute as well as imagine is critical. So the short answer is it's increasingly important.

- What's the best thing about your job?

Working as an unusual specialism within a media agency gives me an autonomy I wouldn't get in an ad agency. A lot of people in media are very creative and understand the technical part of the process, so there's a lot of interest and support for what we do.

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