Looking back and reflecting on the year there has been one niggling
concern that’s been dogging the media industry. And the trouble is, it
looks like the problem is set to get worse.
This worry is summed up in just two words: media talent. If Santa was
charitable enough to allow media grown-ups to ask for one wish, it would
be wise if they requested a never-ending pool of good media players and
strategists. Forget the new-business wins - what’s the point of winning
a multi-million pound account if you’re running dry of the talent to
service the business?
With growing media fragmentation, good planners are becoming a necessary
and even more valuable tool for agencies. No agency wants to be referred
to as a buying shop, and in order to add value and upgrade their
offering they’ve had to emphasise their smart thinking.
Look at Zenith Media: it’s the largest media agency and yet since
Rosemary Gorman’s departure in the summer, it has still not managed to
find a head of strategic planning.
But the growing web of media isn’t the only problem. There’s also the
advent of the dotcoms. This year we’ve seen high flyers such as Martina
King, managing director at TSMS, leave to run Yahoo!, Toby Constantine
and Ellis Watson from News International launch their own online venture
and the former chief executives of BSkyB (Mark Booth) and ONdigital
(Stephen Grabiner) have left to join eVentures.
But why are media johnnies so attracted to these companies?
The answer is money, the excitement of getting involved with something
from the beginning and, if it works, recognition for their own
With the lure of lucrative salaries and a stake in the company, it’s
hard to compete. There’s the rare media company such as New PHD, that
sets up satellite companies to hold on to its talent, but by and large,
media agencies still need to work at building their sex appeal. They are
becoming more influential in the whole advertising process, but somehow
are still perceived outside the industry as representing the grubby side
of it which is clearly wrong.
Unfortunately, the industry is still feeling the effects of the
recession in the early 90s. Lack of cash and foresight meant that few
invested in new talent, and so many of those agencies that now need
experienced media talent never helped grow it in the first place.
So how can agencies give their Christmas wish a helping hand? By
becoming a more attractive environment to work in financially,
physically and in terms of career development. Why not take a leaf out
of the book of dotcoms and plunder other industries for talent? Media
is, and will be, the place where it’s at, so there’s no excuse for not
building on and creating sex appeal.
Have your say at www.campaignlive.com on channel 4.