MEDIA PERSPECTIVE: Strategic thinking will never rescue a poor creative idea

There's nothing particularly interesting about a big fat


But if someone bashes you round the head with one often enough, it's

hard not to take notice.

So my frequent exposure to the ads for the Formula One rival Rockingham

is beginning to irk. It's not simply that the ads are bad - nothing

unusual there. What really nags is that they are such an appalling

high-profile example of a creative brief being put through the hands of

an established strategic agency rather than the traditional creative

agency route.

It would be heartening to think that media and strategic communications

companies really could put new skills where their mouths are and take

lead agency status away from the creative agencies.

I'd love to see media agencies with the client trust and brand nous to

handle a creative brief. And I don't mean write some ads. I mean choose

the best creative talent for the client's needs, brief the creative

team, nurture the creative process and marshall some bloody good ads

that really work with the right media for the target market, rather than

primarily look good in the creative's portfolio.

From the launch of strategic agencies such as Michaelides & Bednash

(responsible for Rockingham) and Unity to the creation of Tempus

Partners, more and more people with media and marketing backgrounds are

aspiring to exactly this.

These agencies claim to be wriggling under the skins of brands, getting

closer to the heart of clients' business issues and dragging with them a

whole understanding of consumer behaviour and media consumption that

creative agencies increasingly lack. Surely this is a better starting

point for the creation of effective advertising.

That's the theory. But what M&B's Rockingham work has highlighted is

that client understanding and consumer awareness count for nothing

without great creative work. What does it matter if the brand

positioning is spot on, the definition of the target market pin-point

accurate and the media selection the most effective yet inventive, if

when the right people see the right brand message in the right place the

creative leaves them cold?

The truth is that the best creative talent is still to be found at the

best creative agencies, not knocking around on the freelance circuit

waiting for projects to be handed to them by media agencies. And few of

the best creative agencies are happy to cede all but creative execution

to a media agency.

So how about creative agencies trying to play media and strategic

agencies at their own game - embracing all the brand awareness, media

understanding and consumer insight but anchoring it to brilliant

creativity? Sounds familiar, I know. But it would require creatives to

give media the status it deserves and still few seem capable or savvy

enough to consider that.