Meribel Ad Festival: Film Cristal

TV advertising is such a mature business now. Clients know what they want and are demanding more and more strategic intellect behind their TV advertising.

Yet at the same time, agencies are having to work harder to earn their fees; advertising is in danger of becoming more about the price than the quality, and the danger is that detracts from the great ideas that agencies have.

But the real pressure is creating TV advertising that really engages people's attention, and to do that you need that "great idea". You can be a creative genius, but amazing creativity won't cut through without the right strategy, the right idea.

And these days the "right idea" must be one that shows respect for the consumer. Consumers now are incredibly advertising-intelligent and brand-literate. We have to acknowledge this in our advertising. Fortunately, changes in the TV medium are helping to drive this new, sensitive approach.

Today, television is more refined; this year is the first year that people are spending less time watching TV and there are now fewer big shows that draw big audiences. As a result, TV is becoming more sensitive. It's still the medium to use if you want to reach mass audiences but we have to recognise that it might be even more powerful if used alongside more intimate media like the internet.

The internet is mostly a place of dialogue and services; it's not a place to watch television. The two media are complementary; consumers see ads on TV and then go to the web for a different sort of dialogue with the brand. The challenge for agencies is to find ways that a brand can express itself across all media in a way that is consistent. But be in no doubt, the web is not a threat to TV.

Television itself now has the power to be more intimate, to create a dialogue with consumers. Interactive TV allows for a two-way process, where consumers can react to the ads they see and invite further communication. But it's a nascent medium. It works well in the UK, for example, but it doesn't in France yet.

So television is changing. And what makes a great TV ad is changing. But the power of the idea and its creative execution remain paramount.

If you have a great idea, brilliantly realised by the best creatives, and you execute it while respecting the consumer's intellect, well, that's still what the best TV advertising is all about.

- Mercedes Erra is the executive chairman of Euro RSCG Worldwide, president of Euro RSCG France, managing director of Havas, and founder of BETC Euro RSCG, France's leading advertising agency. She is also the president of the HEC Association (France's most prestigious business school), and vice-president of the AACC (French Association of Advertising Agencies). She is a Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur. And the mother of four children.

Winner: Film Cristal 2006
Title: Impossible Dream
Product: Honda
Client: Honda
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy UK
Production company: Stink
Director: Ivan Zacharias


Entry deadline 26 October 2007. Award ceremony 14 December 2007 in Meribel.