I don’t know him, but three cheers for Mike Soutar, former FHM
editor and now managing director of Kiss FM. At last week’s PPA
conference, Soutar poured a bucket of cold water over a publishing
industry that has deluded itself into thinking that masthead TV is the
next best thing to, well, colour printing. I suppose this is inevitable.
When you’ve spent so long fighting to get to the promised land (ie the
right to turn magazines into terrestrial TV shows), it goes against the
grain to admit the struggle may not have been worthwhile.
But that’s my problem with masthead TV, and that’s why it’s so
refreshing to hear Soutar take a realistic view of the
Let’s get straight to the point. Amid all the hot air talked about
masthead TV, I’ve never had an explanation of how a title is expected to
make money from it. And if you can’t make money, there’s no point in
doing it. Here’s why: both sides want different things from masthead TV.
Faced with ever-increasing amounts of airtime to fill (and ad breaks to
sell), TV companies want the cheapest programme for the maximum possible
audience. Oh, and they’d like a hot brand name attached.
Magazines want that as-seen-on-TV halo effect, promotion and a nice fat
But - and let’s be generous here - even the biggest magazine (FHM,
Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping) is unlikely to pull audiences over a
If that’s the maximum possible audience, no TV company is going to
proffer either a decent budget or a decent timeslot. What you’ll get is
late-night, talking-head TV with the production values of Forklift Truck
Monthly (no offence to forklift fans), not those of a glossy.
So long as their aims conflict there is every danger that the TV show
actually subverts or undermines the magazine brand - which is a
complicated way of saying the promised land of TV may turn out to be a
Every now and then a research statistic appears which stops you dead in
your tracks. This week it is the revelation that ad avoiders, a group of
consumers that not only dislikes but actively avoids advertising and was
first identified 18 months ago by Lowe Howard-Spink and Western Media,
is growing rapidly.
According to the research, this group accounts for 31 per cent of the
population and, at 41 per cent, is disproportionately represented in
multichannel homes. This doesn’t augur well for digital.
But this isn’t just TV’s problem, it’s everybody’s - agencies, media
owners and advertisers. The research suggests the solution is to make
more engaging ads and improve media targeting - perhaps with an ’ambush
element’ to catch avoiders by surprise.
If only it was that easy. Given advertising’s ubiquity today, avoiders
have got to be pretty vigilant. This suggests it’s not so much that this
group doesn’t like the odd ad - in which case they’d put up with the
rest of it - but that it doesn’t like advertising per se. The problem is
not one of aesthetics or targeting but a philosophical objection. I’d
like to think I was wrong but, if I wasn’t, that would be seriously