Staff Reporters
Jul 30, 2014

Media debate: Putting the medium before the art

Martin Sorrell says media now determines the nature of creative content. Should media agencies be leading the way in campaigns, or should we all just learn to get along?

L-R: Pache, Henderson, Bramham
L-R: Pache, Henderson, Bramham

Claudine Pache

Consumer marketing manager
Asia-Pacific and Japan

With the right technology, media agencies now have the means to profile and target consumers in ways they have never before, hence they can at times be seen to take the lead when it comes to campaign response and creative direction. However, this doesn’t mean they should.

Depending on the campaign objective, having media lead in the initial response with detailed profiling and insights can help creative agencies with the territories they explore. This deeper layer of insight can heighten the impact of a campaign, and for brands this means better ROI. Consumers, in turn, receive a better experience — a more meaningful engagement or a more tailored targeted creative message.

What we need is more integration between media and creative agencies, with each having clearly outlined goals and responsibilities. When the lines around accountability are blurred there can be a blame game around campaign effectiveness.

Is it the creative or the placement that should be the measure for effectiveness? Both. You need well thought-out targeting and placement, but without the right creative message, the impact can fall short, no matter how great the buy. Likewise, great creative can only do so much without support from paid media to bring the content forward. 

Torie Henderson

President, Asia-Pacific, global accounts

The cynics would say “of course she’d say that”, but there are very good reasons why media agencies should be at the forefront of the decision-making process. Whether you believe in big data, small data, trends or technology’s impact on how people interact with brands, media agencies are tapped into the numerous sources of information that must be used in these decisions more than any other contributor. 

Let’s face it: we are now swimming in information.  The most important thing is that it must be analysed by specialists who know what they are looking for. These people must understand behaviour and what motivates people to make decisions and act on them beyond the data.

Some of our clients truly embrace the role of media agencies up-front in strategic development. They are clients who are less interested in shiny objects and more interested in their businesses flourishing as a result of  amazing communications.

Dean Bramham

Publicis Malaysia

Simply put, the media vs creative agency debate is an old-school framing of the dynamic digital transition taking place and will prove irrelevant as the industry evolves.

Firstly, there is no ‘one-best-way’. Each of our clients has a unique, pragmatic and organic approach to evolving into the digital world. It has them embarking on a journey with all agency partners, with new processes and thinking, and very different ways to collaborate. We view this transition as a collaborative task between a client’s needs and their agency partners. 

Secondly, focusing on communications limits this agenda. Common among our clients’ differing approaches is the realisation that consumer-centricity drives growth. Think product experience design and execution that is evolving with consumers: a much higher ideal to which the industry should aspire.

Thirdly, live dialogue is the future, and we need talent across all agencies to be truly ‘on’. No one agency has it all to become the so-called leader.

So what is required to lead? A collaborative team working towards consumer-centric innovation, live CRM and constant engagement, all to create value. And who should set the agenda: client, researcher, ideation team, CRM or engagement planner? Wouldn’t the most exciting place to work be where they all work together? How? Now that’s the harder question.


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