OPINION: Media creativity is the new point of difference to watch

Simon Calvert argues that clever use of media is what makes the biggest difference to campaigns. Now media departments are the place you’ll see original thinking

Simon Calvert argues that clever use of media is what makes the biggest

difference to campaigns. Now media departments are the place you’ll see

original thinking

Why did a beer brand book entire ad breaks and promote them as TV shows?

Why has a financial brand taken the same sites, on the same days of the

week, in the same newspaper titles for 52 weeks of the year and promoted

them as shops?

And why did a soft-drink brand launch one of its flavour variants on to

the American market using mangoes as the medium?

These are early examples of a new kind of creativity, where creativity

in media is at the very heart of advertising development. One where

media creativity multiplies the effect of the communication.

So why is media creativity critical to advertising success? Well, for a

start, cheaper cost through buying clout is now a given, not a

comprehensive advantage.

Second, every media company has products that improve targeting.

Unfortunately, most can only make small improvements in minimising


Pioneering companies use qualitative insights to dramatically improve

media value. But let’s not revisit that debate right now. Let’s assume

that the enlightened brands have already done all they can to buy at the

cheapest cost per unit.

How, then, can media be used to have a profound impact on advertising

effectiveness? Only by developing creative and original media ideas.

Look at the examples referred to above.

Like most brands, Miller Pilsner, National Savings and Snapple worked

hard to strip out wastage and get the best possible deals. Unlike most

brands, they used creative media ideas to multiply the effectiveness of

their campaigns.

The Millertime ad used a media idea to create a high-visibility event

and a higher level of customer involvement.

‘Virtual shops’ used media to create, in addition to the Post Office,

another channel of distribution for National Savings. Putting ‘also

available in Snapple flavour’ stickers on mangoes was a media idea that

turbocharged the power of the creative message.

All three could have communicated their messages and personalities by

using traditional ‘slash wastage/best deal’ media strategies. But

without such innovative media ideas, would these campaigns have been so


Would they have generated the same levels of impact and involvement?

Without these media ideas, would they have dramatically improved the

effectiveness of the communication?

No chance.

So, in future, every media strategy should be assessed using three basic

criteria for judgment.

Beyond cost-efficient targeting, does it have a media idea? Is that idea

creative and original enough to be a serious ‘contender’ at D&AD? Does

it use media in a creative and original way to multiply the

effectiveness of the communication?

If clients answer ‘no’ to any of these questions then they will have

every right to feel short-changed.

If the best media ideas aren’t serious ‘contenders’ at creative award

ceremonies then their originators should also feel short-changed.

Getting media ideas on to the judges’ agenda will depend on how

genuinely receptive the creative community is to new ideas.

For example, Martin Sorrell, WPP’s chairman, recently advised creative

departments to wise up to the changing media world (Campaign, 26 April).

‘The biggest problem in advertising agencies at the moment,’ he said ‘is

that all the exciting new-media initiatives are coming from the media


Personally, I don’t have a problem with this. But it casts doubt on the

ability of traditional creative departments to compete. Especially when

original ways of using (new and old) media multiply the effectiveness of

the communication.

Simon Calvert is a media strategist at Michaelides Bednash