Inside the Mix

Media owners implementing more creative efforts to gain larger role in marketing mix

Media owners implementing more creative efforts to gain larger role in marketing mix

There seems to be something about owning your own broadcast medium (and ad medium, lest we forget) that tends to stunt creativity in your own advertising.

Perhaps it's snow blindness from seeing so many ads pass through your own media outlet. Maybe it's hard to have a relationship with an ad and media agency when they are also creating work for other companies to advertise on your medium. Whatever the reason, I was reminded of this when I saw some work from Cosmopolitan's upcoming "multimillion dollar" (Cosmo's words - Women's Wear Daily says $10 million) ad campaign to mark its 40th anniversary.

That's quite a spend for a magazine, and it's just going on press and outdoor (although those NYC scaffold-wraps don't come cheap). Is it congruent with my theory? Well, it's not bad; it's just not very exciting. Anonymous stylish young things pose above the tagline "We're Cosmopolitan" - a line that few genuine "fun, fearless females" would say, either with a capital "C" or a lowercase one.

The real point, though, is the irony that media owners tend to come up with campaigns that are pedestrian at best when they're becoming so creative when working with their advertisers. No longer is the media owner-media buyer transaction confined to a rate-card tussle. Nowadays, media sellers are frequently assisting their clients in the account-planning process, something that is traditionally the territory of the ad or media agency.

It was during the recession that media owners became more sophisticated in consulting clients. They had to. TV sales houses were faced with a cutback in broadcast spending, and magazine companies suddenly had fewer titles to bundle into packages for fewer advertisers. The ad dollar had to stretch further.

Now they're able to work with select advertisers on cross-promotional packages across a variety of brands and platforms. The creative force behind the campaign is the media in which it appears, rather than the substance of an ad.

While these media sellers work with advertisers in this way, many media companies should not forget a rich, in-house resource for working on these packages: the PR and marketing department. Chris Ender, SVP of communications at CBS, cites a campaign in which P&G worked with Survivor. Ender's team already had garnered fantastic PR for Survivor when it then lent its expertise to P&G on a watch-and-win competition. As part of this, there was airtime on the show, product integration, and the contest, all put together with heavy PR involvement.

Ender says that PR's role in these packages is not yet the next gold rush, but he welcomes the chance to use his department's knowledge of a media giant like CBS to help advertisers get maximum mileage for their money and, in turn, gain more momentum for the shows he promotes. It creates goodwill and longer-term relationships (and contracts), and once again brings PR into a vital role in the marketing mix.

Most media owners also work this way, and Cosmopolitan's owner, Hearst, is sure to have a creative sales team. Media owners are a new, creative force in advertising. Just perhaps not always on their own.

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