If proof were needed that the media industry has evolved further
and faster than most areas of advertising in recent years, it was found
in last week’s news of Royal Mail’s pounds 20 million media review
(Campaign, 21 November).
The account had come down to a three-way shoot-out between the
incumbent, MediaVest, BMP Optimum and TMD Carat. Nothing too surprising
there: MediaVest had held the business since 1992 and was widely thought
to have performed more than merely creditably on the account, while the
others are suitably large buyers with contrasting styles.
Even when TMD picked up the business, nothing seemed particularly
True, the client paid more fulsome praise than is perhaps usual to the
efforts of Media-Vest. What was unusual was what Derek Fairhurst, the
marketing controller for Royal Mail, went on to say. The key reason for
the appointment of TMD, he said, was that the agency had impressed with
its more integrated approach to media planning.
Unusual when you consider that, not long ago, merely coupling the words
’integrated’ and ’media’ in the same sentence would simply have prompted
a shrug of the shoulders and a suitably baffled look. Now Mark Craze,
the managing director of TMD, says the whole field of direct marketing
is a priority investment area for Carat.
As Fairhurst says: ’Planning and buying agencies will need to respond by
positioning all forms of communication, including direct mail, alongside
TV, press and outdoor when planning the media mix.’
So is this a firm signal that the integrated advertising approach has
finally broken down the last barriers of resistance in the media world?
After all, with the prospect of one of these pounds 20 million accounts
dangling enticingly, one can see several media agencies that could
quickly establish impeccable integrated agendas.
Well, maybe. It should be borne in mind that Royal Mail is no ordinary
client. It doesn’t just look upon direct mail merely as an effective
means of conveying its advertising message but, uniquely, sees the
industry as a considerable profit centre in its own right.
Indeed, more than one of the pitching agencies was dismayed to find that
the importance of the direct marketing element was not outlined at the
beginning of the review process, and that when it was eventually spelled
out, there was rather less emphasis on the marketing side of it and
rather more on the mail.
’I’m not sure how much you can read into this in terms of a blueprint
for how media companies should structure themselves,’ the boss of one of
the pitching companies, who preferred not to be named, says. ’It was
clear Royal Mail had special media requirements, and its own agenda on
Interested outsiders saw the process in a less machiavellian light. ’I
think clients are accepting how important it is to deal with companies
that are media neutral; that is to say, not pre-disposed towards one
medium or another because of certain historic ties or for reasons of
cost,’ Mike Dodds, the managing partner at OgilvyOne in charge of the
agency’s Royal Mail account, says. ’But there aren’t many above-the-line
media agencies with the necessary direct marketing expertise.’
Certainly the TMD of old would have struggled to fit into that
particular category. This was an agency that would have bridled at the
description ’media neutral’, and which prided itself on its abilities in
the TV buying market. But nowadays, direct marketing is at the top of
the agenda. As it is for other media companies eager not to give clients
any reason, no matter how trivial, to leave their names off