We are going to expand our sphere of knowledge sharing at have a look at the media industry. If you ever find yourself in media land, you will quickly realise "media" is pronounced "medya." I tell you this so you can blend in easier.
Mark is the Executive Planning Director at PHD (one of the big media agencies, owned by Omnicom) so I thought it might be good to get the inside story on media and how it relates to marketing/advertising.
What is media all about? What makes it different from marketing/advertising?
Media is just a word. Media planning on the other hand is deciding where client's money should be invested for the maximum Return on Investment (ROI) by identifying the best target audience and the best media channels to target.
You have to find out what the client wants, scope out the audience, scope out the channels and how much to invest.
There is creativity involved but not in the same way as in marketing or advertising. For example imagine a gallery that wants to hold an exhibition. Someone has to decide what sort of an exhibition it will be - a sculpture exhibition, paintings, an installation, whatever. Those are your media planners.
The people who produce the art (the sculpture or the painting or the bed strewn with various objects) are the creative departments of the marketing/advertising agencies.
What is it about media that interests you?
The fact that the industry revolves around influence. We are not really in the business of buying space - We are buying billions of micro cognitive moments with consumers that can be used to influence how they think and what they do.
It might seem a touch immoral but I believe that consumers, people, should not be 'nanny stated' and that by exposing them to marketing messages we are allowing them to develop internal controls and resistance to certain advertising messaging.
But how does that argument stack up against the row about marketing to children?
This is me playing devil's advocate (so don't go picketing PHD, please - I'll get in trouble. Steve) but what would happen if you didn't market to children now? It might be that their lack of exposure to marketing messaging means that in later life they have no 'natural resistance' or ability to filter messages which could potentially result in even greater damage.
There is a school of thought that says struggle is essential for psychological development - although children may at times struggle now, that struggle is allowing them to develop psychologically so they will be at lower risk as adults.
However if I stop playing devil's advocate and be practical, I think the solution to the marketing to children issue is to only allow it with products that have less than (for example) 10 grams of fat, or a low sugar content. This solution also puts huge pressure on manufacturers to improve their New Product Development (NPD).
What is your role within PHD?
To improve tha planning product of the whole companyand spearhead new business. I work with media planners to give advice on campaigns to make sure they work as well as they can and run/oversee any plans for new business.
What trends do you see in the industry that are of note?
With regard to agencies their role is changing and in many cases expanding. On the client side the people responsible for marketing and advertising are becoming more senior - in some cases it may be the CEO or even Chairman of the Board.
This means that agencies can begin to influence bigger decisions, like those concerning the development of new products. Maybe in a few years time agencies will be able to go back to a client and say "You wanted us to promote product X but we think you would be better off developing a product that does ABC."
What are your passions? What makes you passionate?
Knowing how to influence people. For example if you wanted to launch a brand of trainers called Fred, you could put an ad in a glossy fashion mag. Or you could get people to go out onto the street and ask them about their favourite fashion brands and in the course of conversation, mention Fred. Mentioning it to people has the potential to influence people on a deeper level.
This is almost communicating with people so they don't know they are being communicated with. And it's not dishonest or lying - truth is what happens when we stop thinking. If you keep thinking then your truth will change.
Imagine you buy a watch. It's a nice watch, nice strap good looking face, it tells the time - exactly what you need. Imagine now that watch is a Gucci watch - you may very well enjoy the watch all the more. Your perceived pleasure has increased, but the 'truth' has not - it's the same watch.
The increased pleasure of the Gucci watch is the perceived pleasure we get from the brand.
What social trends have you noticed?
There are trends that may have been slightly exaggerated by the industry and then trends that in my opinion actually exist.
One that has been exaggerated is that consumers are now in complete control of the advertising that they consume and that ever more people are opting out of receiving advertising.
One trend however I think is based firmly in reality that consumers have moved emotionally away from their families. This emotional distance has created a vacuum where close familial bonds used to be, and this vacuum is now being filled with material possessions and a greater consumption of media.
What effect has the social networking phenomenon had on the media industry and the way clients are spending their money?
It may sound a little like heresy, but at the moment I am not sure it is having a huge effect. For example fopr most of our clients the rise of social networking sites means they have more places to put banner ads.
However the one effect I have noticed is that clients are becoming more aware of the benefits associated with interacting with bloggers and blogs in a nice, honest way.
An absolutely fantastic viral video from Dove and their campaign for real beauty - just watch it and sit there in amazement.
I just think that it captures the idea behind real beauty brilliantly and demonstrates the point Dove are trying to make far more effectively than words ever could.
On the one hand it reassures me that actually, those people who I think couldn't be any more beautiful really aren't, but on the other it disturbs me how we are being fed complete bollocks and we are trained to consume it as if it were real.
Now the really interesting thing is that on YouTube this thing has already been viewed 91,000 times! Spread the video around, let me know if you like it, what you think!
Adage (another great site by the way - sign up for the digital newsletter, that's where this info comes from) has praised Nike for its digital strategy, and with quotes like this you can kind of understand why:
"With well over 1 million miles -- equivalent to circling the world more than 40 times -- logged by Nike Plus runners in just 10 weeks, it's fair to say that Nike and Apple have changed running forever."
This is all about the Nike/iPod tie up, and the site that they launched - the integration with Apple is great, the brands fit well with each other.
However Adage says Nike took a hit in profits in their first quarter (down 13%) despite a record $15 billion sales, so it's not all happy days.
Now I'm not afraid to have a pop at the TV ad industry from time to time (something along the lines of "The 30 second Tv Ad spot is dead") but they can still do some really, really cool stuff like the new sony ad. Hands up, hats off, it's a great ad.
But, you might disagree - let me know what you think of it.
Is it only a good ad because is such a cool thing to have done, i.e. a really big stunt? Or genuinely a well thought out creative execution?