A couple of weeks ago, a dinky little A5 booklet landed on my
Called Great Media Ideas, it detailed a number of case histories in
which media creativity had been central to the campaign - among them
Stena, the Ministry of Sound and Jaguar.
Yes, you’ve guessed. It was, in effect, an ad for J. Walter Thompson’s
media department and gosh, yes, I was surprised - and impressed - by
some of the things they’d done.
Nonetheless, it made me think. For years JWT has insisted that its media
department was a lot better than many people gave it credit for (I must
confess to being one of the sceptics myself).
Yet only now has it got around to demonstrating this, which is a bit
curious given that JWT’s boss, the charming Dominic Proctor, used to run
its media department.
In fact, for JWT you could read almost any other media department,
whether full service, dependant or independent.
Why is it, then, that media people are so reluctant, compared with their
creative brethren, to sing their own praises? Is it a built-in
inferiority complex, the result of years of being regarded as the
second-class citizens in the basement?
Don’t laugh: it might just be. Last week, the head of a top ten media
buying outfit - a person who could easily moonlight as an assertiveness
trainer - admitted to me that the prospect of being on a creative awards
panel had reduced them to a blue funk. Ten years ago, I could have
understood, if not sympathised, with such an attitude. Not today though.
And yet this strange reluctance among media people to stand up and take
the credit for their contribution continues to inhibit them.
I find it curious. In this day and age, more than ever, the media
strategy is as crucial, if not more so, than the creative execution. It
doesn’t matter how good the ad is, if it isn’t seen by the right people
in the right context, it’s a waste of money.
If not universally accepted yet among creatives, this principle is
certainly recognised by other interest groups in the advertising process
and certainly by more clients.
Five years ago, Campaign ran a feature highlighting this principle. It
was called ’Where Media Made the Difference’ and was about great
campaigns that were defined by their choice and use of media: Guinness,
the Economist, Nissan Micra and Boddingtons.
Today we could run that same feature and the list would be longer and
more varied. Let’s see: Wonderbra, Triumph (sorry, bras again), Umbro,
Colgate, Seat, Lynx, Doritos, Mercedes, Club 18-30 - and those are just
the ones that spring to mind immediately. I’m sure you could think of
But do we ever hear publicly about the role of the media department in
these and other campaigns? Do we hell. It’s time more of them copied
JWT. If they don’t stand up for themselves, nobody else will.