Media and creative need to play nicely together – and stop being so darn precious about their respective disciplines.
Highly respected and awarded UK ad man Trevor Beattie once said: “Media on its own is a canvas without a painting and creativity on its own is a pot of paint, so neither of them stand alone.”
This coming from a creative was probably a surprise to those working in media who think that creative have no respect for media. The reality is creative does have respect for media – but that respect is for the thinking side of media and not the processing side.
Unfortunately the splitting of media from creative has resulted in creative and media working less closely together to deliver integrated campaigns.
Media agencies now compete with creative agencies to own the strategy and ultimately the budget.
The claim of media neutrality by media agencies is mostly just talk. The reality is that media agencies won’t recommend more investment in creative and less in media exposure.
And all too often media agencies will recommend what the size or duration should be. These recommendations are based on budget and exposure levels as opposed to consideration of what the creatives need to effectively convey the message. Media planners/buyers should provide guidance but not be dictating the creative parameters.
Another anomaly is how media agencies encourage advertisers to provide a media brief. I’ve never believed in the media brief. If creatives can produce an idea that resonates with the target audience then media should be able to work off the same brief to connect with the target audience via media strategy, selection and placement.
Sadly this disconnect between creative and media will only get worse with a generation of media planners/buyers now coming through that has never worked with creatives; a media generation that is basing most of its decisions on facts and figures from research that they and their competitors subscribe to.
Where is the point of difference?
This lack of difference is probably behind the latest development on the processing side of media to commoditise media even more with the appointment of ‘traders’. Traders may ensure the advertiser gets their media for the lowest possible rate but there is no consideration for any factors beyond price paid.
With most media agencies being part of a global business, there is no possibility of media moving back into the creative agencies. But there is a need for creative and media to work more closely together in order to deliver better integrated campaigns across today’s fragmented media landscape. An integrated approach encourages creative and media to challenge each other, to work together and not in isolation.
From my own experience I wouldn’t have it any other way than working closely with creative. I find that although creatives and media people look at media differently, it doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate how media people can contribute to the creative through an understanding of the relationship between the target audience and the medium and how a medium is consumed.
Together creative and media need to develop and own the strategy. But it can only happen if both parties make the effort and stop being precious about their particular discipline.
John Dee is managing director at J Dee Media