The Media - The New Creative Force in Advertising?
As we approach the end of another dismal year in the world of the agency Madman, I look back on a couple of events that are currently shaping my thinking.
Despite watching Cannes this year from the comfort of a Twitter screen and failing to attend the Monaco Media forum last week as I had a pressing engagement in Shoreditch.
I am returning to one of my favorite themes, that is the shifting sands of Creative Power.
Cannes once again this year was dominated by the global digital brands, using La Croisette to ply their online and increasingly mobile technologies. Google, Facebook, MSN and Yahoo were joined this year by Twitter - (Jack Dorsey it's founder replaced Zuck as the Media Person of the Year.) -and the likes of Spotify, anxious to ride on the coattails of their bigger binary brethren.
Meanwhile is the slightly less sticky surroundings of RBS towers in Bishopsgate I joined the next generation of wannabe digerati millionaires plying their wares and showing they stuff at Mediatel's Media Playground.
The common link between both events is the disappearance of the traditional Creative (sic) Agency from the forefront of creativity. Sure they are still out in force in Cannes but the real money is at the Google Sandpit. International Googlers lushing CMO's of Fortune 500 client companies, together with the CEO's of their media agencies, who just happened to have their quarterly EX-CO meeting at Eden Roc.
Back at Media playground with the new school of UK technological media companies, the likes of Rovi and Tapjoy are doing the same thing, albeit with a different expense account strata. Again media agencies aplenty, this time represented their Head of Video Technology, Head of Mobile, Head of Emerging Platforms. Head of Screen they are all here - (there is a joke here I'm sure, but will avoid to keep the lawyers happy.)
Unlike at Cannes I wouldn't necessarily expect to see Ogilvy, Mother and BBH represented, but as in previous years I was struck by the amount of conversation from the speakers panelists and audience about creativity (or at least creative formats.) It is this last point that both worries me and also got me thinking.
The creative fragmentation that different technologies have bought about means that quite often whilst the media planner, media owner and client are aligned in the usage of a particuler channel the thought of how to creatively use that channel is often left to the last minute.
Anyone who has ever worked within creativity or with creative people will know this is almost always destined for failure, despondencey and disappointment. That is not to say that media owners cannot be powerful and effective creators of commerical content .
For years good media owners like Bauer were at the forefront of this. The Bauer commercial creativity department now led by the ex agency Staffer 'The Lucy Banks', remains a creative force due to their ability to leverage their powerful editorial brands in harmony with the needs of advertisers. Check out their http://www.gothinkbig.co.uk/ work with o2 , so 'big it got big Dave Cameron tweeting about it .
Likewise their radio rivals over at Global who (neatly circling my twin themes) picked up a radio Lion at Cannes courtesy of in house creative talent. But somehow these Old World examples (even though they now happily include the latest technology channels) still don't address the problem of the real creative format problem delivered by the technology led media owners who control little or no editorial content.
Google are building an impressive array of in house creative talent (and are also collecting a fine set of creative awards for their "brand films") but we are yet to see the result of their output for their clients in their no editorial environment.
Meanwhile, Twitter proudly announced the first ever TV campaign at Cannes which to be fair does practice what the digerati preach in terms of bespoke online video, but one of the elephants in the room at Playground (there was a whole herd at one stage) remains that no one can tell you their favorite banner ad.
One of the great hopes for digital media and their ad funded Freemium economy business model is of course "viral" video. The new phrase for this is "Social Video Advertising" which seems like an intelligent re marketing of a much abused moniker, but the overall reach of campaigns is still painfully low, But for those interested, skateboarding ducks in Raybans is still the comedy gold required for a Social Video Advertising hit.
Creative excellence is always going to be necessary to create impact (and therefore effect.) Luckily long gone are the days when a creative director lamented to me that a team said they had cracked the digital brief " by uploading the TV ad onto You Tube".
Ensuring creative and media are linked is an absolute necessity whatever the format, and message delivery system.
One working without the other is a sure fire short cut to failure.