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
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
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
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?
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
Simon Calvert is a media strategist at Michaelides Bednash