‘At one time there was a handful of key programmes and key media titles
and you knew if you advertised in them you could reach your target
market. Now that’s no longer possible.’ It sounds like a PR man’s sales
pitch, but in fact it was an adman’s comment after buying 13 spaces in
Monday’s Guardian as part of a pounds 2.5 million Mercury campaign.
‘Unorthodox space buying’ like this is apparently one of the advertising
industry’s ideas for coping with an increasingly diverse and specialised
media. Another idea is the use of ‘shock’ advertising to gain extra
‘free’ media space. It might bring higher visibility, but that’s not
good enough. What about the client’s message?
Advertising is still one of the most powerful marketing tools around.
But it does not have an answer to every problem, and it devalues itself
by claiming that it does. PR cannot replace advertising, but it is
usually better at targeting specialist audiences cost-effectively, and
creating a dialogue with consumers.
Here’s a idea for clients. Just for laughs ask your PR people how they
might spend, say, ten per cent of your current advertising budget. You
might be surprised at the results.