[Video] Is Media Tech Stealing the Ad Agency’s Thunder?
Jessica Hubbard, Deputy Editor; 7 December 15
Given the increasingly dominant role that media technology now plays in rolling out campaigns and driving brand awareness, the question arises as to whether the tech is the star – or whether it’s the idea and brainpower behind each campaign?
“There’s been a huge amount of debate [around this] recently, especially as technology starts to push the envelope as to where the idea lies,” says Jonathan Deeb, Executive Creative Director, FCB Joburg. “In my opinion, it’s still in an amazing, simple, creative and iconic idea.”
Deeb notes that while tech has done an incredible job of provoking creativity, and of inspiring creatives to utilise it in really new and engaging ways, ‘it’s still about how you’re going to utilise that tech or an interesting new media innovation approach to make the brand more accessible and approachable to the consumer.’
He cites the example of a British Airways campaign using a billboard that simply interrupted every digital piece of communication that it was serving at the time when a British Airways flight flew over the billboard.
“It wasn’t the tech that was the idea – I have a similar app that tells me which airline or flight is in the sky, or what the weather is like – it was the sense of magic that really made it amazing,” he says. “A person is walking in a public environment, there is media serving them communications all the time, and the particular idea was to add a little bit of magic.”
He adds: “In my opinion, the idea is owned by the person who came up with it – and the reality is it could be anyone. By virtue of our role, it ends up being more often the advertising creative agencies that come up with the ideas…”
That said, Deeb did acknowledge that ad agencies do also implement ideas that originated with media agencies or other players.
The Separation Between Media & Creatives
According to Deeb, the media competency, the buying, and the strategy was historically ‘very much part of the ad agency role’.
“…and it’s our own fault that there has been a separation between media agencies and ad agencies,” he adds. “In the old days, the way we made our money was purely from media, and the creative work was sort of thrown in as an added value. That is part of the legacy around why creativity is remunerated the way it is. But by virtue of that separation, we started making media buying a little bit more transactional…there wasn’t that constant integration of being in the same space as the creative teams.”
He maintains that while there is an ‘absolute science’ to being a media strategist, the focus has ended up being more around ‘eyeballs’ and market analysis, for example…
“Now, as we saw at Cannes, we’re seeing creative agencies winning within the media categories, because it’s those guys who are coming up with innovative approaches to placing and utilising media.”
Deeb says that media agencies, especially globally, are starting to hire creative strategists and creatives ‘because the pressure is on, and it’s a really good thing.’
The Walls are Collapsing
He cites the importance of true integration and working together very closely.
“Where integration works incredibly well is where ego is not at the fore – and the idea is at the fore,” adds Deeb. “Where it’s about pursuing the absolute best idea as a group of agencies…and being the custodian of the idea, but not being an absolute defender to the point where you will not allow the idea to evolve.”
He notes that ‘the walls are breaking down across the board’, and cites Digital agencies as an example of this happening…
“Definitely, in our agency that is how things are evolving, it’s a no brainer…but where the separation happens is working across brands that don’t all utilise your full offering,” he says. “So we will see elements of separation continue to exist, because it’s a bit idealistic to think that all brands are going to choose a one-shop offering for absolutely everything. But will the walls continue to collapse? Yes.”