Opinion: Perspective - Can agencies find ways to showcase best work?

Have you seen the latest Orbit chewing gum ad from Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO? It's our Turkey this week (page 23).

As Turkeys go, it's a classic: good agency (displaying, even, some signs of a creative revival under Paul Brazier ... if you ignore for a moment the relentless awfulness of Camelot), good client, somehow the result is an absolute stinker of an ad, it's toe-curlingly, embarrassingly bad.

But let's not pick on AMV. Turkey of the Week is probably the most hotly contested slot in Campaign and it is fair to say that we rarely have trouble cooking up a list of candidates for the accolade. While the UK can bask in the findings of the latest Gunn Report (page 18) and take great satisfaction from closing the gap on the US as the second-most-awarded ad market in the world, the majority of our ads are, at best, average.

So it seems perfectly sensible for television companies to consider making their best programmes available in a Turkey-free format, for a fee of course. And perfectly sensible for discerning viewers to choose to watch their favourite programmes uninterrupted by the drivel that makes up a chunk of the average peak time ad break.

This week, two of the US's biggest TV networks, CBS and NBC Universal, announced that they are going to put some of their primest of primetime shows into a video-on-demand format. And viewers will be able to dodge the ads or speed through the breaks. Meanwhile, ABC has already secured a deal with the new generation of video iPods which allows viewers to download TV programmes - again ad free - on to their iPods for just under $2 a go.

So no more Turkeys to spoil your viewing enjoyment. True, the programmes will also be stripped of those wonderful ads that do manage to entertain and engage audiences ... but I suspect most viewers will happily forgo the chance to see the latest blockbuster commercial if it means they won't have to sit through (or fast-forward) the rather more plentiful Turkeys.

Whether all this portends the death of peak time television is a moot point. The growth of the personal video recorder already means that we're all becoming our own TV schedulers and the idea of watching the biggest shows at a time dictated by the broadcaster is fast becoming an anachronism.

And with barely a week passing without a big advertiser declaring their intention of moving more money out of TV advertising and into other - particularly digital - media it's not surprising that the TV networks are looking for new revenue streams to protect their programming assets.

Meanwhile, we're all familiar with the ad industry's enthusiastic attempts to explore new ways of embedding commercial messages into programmes, or making the programmes themselves, as a way of responding to these developments.

But what of all those wonderful ads that aren't Turkeys, that viewers really might want to watch (because they're entertaining, because they're pertinent, because they're fun)? The demise of traditional peak-time viewing and the rise of ad-free programming mean getting the right ads in front of the right people at the right time becomes more of a lottery.

So I reckon it's pretty smart of Fallon and Sony to advertise the debut of their Bravia "film" last week. OK, they advertised it in Campaign (which makes it doubly smart), so I have a vested interest.

But the idea of making ads must-see events, and publicising their broadcast, seems eminently sensible in this new world order. Perhaps the first runs of the best ads should even find a place in the TV listings (though for a price, probably).

So there is a place for traditional TV advertising in this VOD world, it's just that the Turkeys will hopefully become obsolete. The real challenge will be making sure that viewers see the good stuff. Well ... that and working out how agencies are going to make money when they can no longer pump out stinkers and get away with it.

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