Wednesday, 30 September 2009

M&M Poland interview 29.09.09 - "Man with a mission"

Got my 15 minutes of fame in Poland yesterday in the weekly marketing trade title - Media & Marketing. The interview was conducted just after I arrived 4 months ago, but held back to now for better impact and an update on a newcast project.
Here are the images

And for all those non-Polish speakers, heres the transcript in English:

My impressions, and not only mine, when getting information about your arrival to Poland was that you are to control the Polish office’s activity.

Absolutely not. My goal is to share my experiences from more developed market with my Polish colleagues. I won’t execute personal management but I will work on product development, especially in digital media sphere. Great Britain outdistances Polish market with 2 or 3 years in this area, mainly because of higher penetration of the Internet. I have to integrate media Zed Digital and interactive Moxie and to launch NewCast brand into Polish market. Those objectives are planned for twelve or twenty months.

In the name of your position we can find words: „business development” and you will take care about specialist brands. So one may presume that specializations are the driving force of business increase.

Absolutely positive. Two spheres now accelerate the increase of European media houses - digital and non standard communication. Combined Zed and Moxie, employing respectively 20 and 6 persons, generate really strong product. It’s worth saying that ZenithOptomedia has “in house” interactive creation only in the United States and in Poland. And only few media houses have such internal resources. With their help we want to plan better consumer engagement activities. The times when consumers were inundated with unilateral messages are gone for ever.

Why does Zed act as separate department? Why won’t you integrate it with the rest of the agency planning media off-line?

New media market grows so fast that it needs specific approach and (being in the swim????). That what we decidedly demand from all planners, also dealing with traditional media, is to understand new media. Those people don’t buy Internet but they have to know what it is about. Running the separate department is necessary for keeping particular level of skills and specialist knowledge which are then transferred to the rest of the agency. Zed is a global brand; it operates on all main markets and time for deeper integration of structures absolutely hasn’t come yet. Increasingly ZOG (through Vivaki) are creating market leading digital planning tools – especially in the growing SEM and Social Media areas – in order to create a leadership position in the digital field, so we need digital experts to fulfill our ambitions.

Doesn’t commission, still much more higher in Internet, decide about keeping separated Internet departments inside the agency?

No, it doesn’t. In most media houses in Great Britain TV and buying departments still operate. TV is the medium which eats up the biggest budgets and planning service is highly specialized and it demands to work on data constantly. This should be justified with market needs regulating work distribution and structures scheme in the agency. In my opinion there is a need of running online specialization in Poland.

Online planning is among basic services offered by media houses. So why is it priced much more higher than traditional media planning?

Because it takes more time and is an increasingly complex medium to plan and buy in. Spending £ 1 million for TV and for Internet is fundamentally different in terms of amount of work. TV planning systems have been developed for forty years and Internet for just ten. This difference in labor intensity will be reduced, of course, with the passage of time. The complexity of the medium means that bespoke tools and systems need to be developed also – these tools maximise the efficiency of client investment.

Ultimately there will be one planner for all media or off-line and digital ones working as one team?

There is no clear and concrete scenario yet. I think that there will be two “species” in future agency’s structures. In the first one there will be planners focused on data and numbers (“data centric”) probably coming from digital or direct sphere. The second group will include strategic-creative planners. They will create big, game changing ideas within the campaign. Those “data centric” ones wouldn’t hit on such ideas. Even today such division becomes to emerge if you track the structure of the agency and different departments.

Media houses are paid in different ways including commissions, hybrid system – i.e. commission + success fee - or flat fee. Which one is, in your opinion, the best for both sides?

There is no one model suitable for all clients. The most popular system in Great Britain combines remuneration for planning, conditioned with the value of all used resources (tools, data, etc.), with the commission. Most of our contracts provide for bonus for appropriate results as purchase price, sales value, etc. Except for single SEM projects I don’t know the examples of clients who pay only for effects.

So there is no tendency for renouncing commission, yet it’s connected with thinking about purchase in terms of biggest kick-backs from suppliers.

I don’t know any planner thinking that way. Besides, in ZenithOptimedia planner is that one who makes crucial decisions concerning purchase and buyer realizes them. So system combining payment for planning – where planner makes decisions – and commission for buying caries no risk for both sides. It’s similarly with hourly rates but clients are still not accustomed to it.

In several months, when your ZOG mission is over, you’ll leave the agency which…

Will be number one in digital offer on the Polish market. Such opinion will be given according to the following criteria: clients feedback, perceiving among suppliers, effectiveness in new business and number of awards. For newcast, I want the division to be the preferred non-traditional player, both for our clients and for suppliers, to do business with with..

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Coldplay video row - real life creative tif or promotional tool?

The dulcet tones of Cerys Matthews on 6 Music Just informed me of a battle royle in the music video industry today. In a similar vein to the row over the ground-breaking Honda 'Cog' TV commercial - the production team behind Coldplay's' Strawberry Swing video have been accused of stealing a idea.

Singer Andy Gallagher thinks Shynola's video for Coldplay's' Strawberry Swing 'looks a bit familiar'.

Pretty quickly a rebuttal has followed in this incredibly long and detail note from Shynola on their website

It includes their sources of inspiration for the Coldplay promo, and even carries a thinly veiled suggestion that it was Andy Gallagher director who is indeed the plagiarist

All very interesting but here's the thing. In a world where the music industry is apparently on its knees due to piracy (see the hilarious 'yes its bad' 'no it isn't' spat between the rock royalty of Radiohead vs Lily Allen), is therefore hemorrhaging money and struggling to finance music videos. Here was a massive opportunity for Coldplay to get their new vid seen by an audience who might not ordinarily bother otherwise (6 music listeners).

But no - i went to You Tube (now the music video deal has been done) but I was denied - the Coldplay video has been taken down by the publisher. Whats going on here? An admission that there might be something in Andy Gallaghers claim or a band who don't want to profit from this type of publicity? Either way - I really want to see the video now please....

Here at least is Andy Gallagher's...dare I say "original"...


Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Back to the Future - digital newspapers in 1981

Ah is not history wonderful - so many of the answers we crave today, are questions we faced in the past.

As newspaper publishers globally struggle with business models to keep their printed edition in business and feed investmernt into their digital editions (free content, subscription based or a combination of the two) it looks like in 1981 we were faced with the same questions.

Brilliant piece of footage here from a San Francisco news channel on pioneering efforts by the SF chroncile to bring a digital version of its daily to market.

I love the fact that the early adopter 'home computer owner' is in his 70s but he is dead keen on the technolgy, This is not that long after some genuis at IBM said there would never be a market for home computers.

Thanks to Guardian MediaMonkey for this tip.

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Monday, 14 September 2009

UK Product Placement - opening the door to brands

Want your beer flowing in Rovers Return? How about having Jamie Oliver noshing your brand of bangers? Previously money can't buy marketing strategies, until now....

Quite a surprising final story on the BBC late evening news this Saturday. Product placement in UK TV shows will be legalised at some point in the near future. The news represents something of a turnaround for the Government, with Culture Secretary Ben Bradsahw reversing his predecessor Andy Burnham position. Burnham said a year or so ago that lifting the ban raised "very serious concerns" and was "blurring the boundaries between advertising and editorial". This turnaround will bring a level certainty to what is something of a grey area of UK broadcast law.

I say grey area as product placement certainly exists, its just not legitimised. We would send brands product and key messages to props agencies with the hope they would get used in high rating shows. ZenithOptimedia London indeed had tremendous success with a COI 'Flu Jabs' Eastenders campaign in 2006 - not only were the Henry Cooper emblazoned posters we provided clearly seen on screen. But the soaps producers decided to incorporate the Flu Jabs season into the storyline (with Jim Brennan desperate to avoid the needle with Dot egging him on - classic stuff). But no money would change hands and no exposure was guaranteed.

This is all about to change with this policy decision. More will no doubt be announced at the official unveiling on Weds (at the Royal Television Society lecture) but we can hazard a guess at what this new future may hold of us.

Commercial stations and independent producers (the BBC will remain exempt - with the old 'send a prop and pray' model in place) will be able to accept payment in return for guaranteed screen time for brands. No detail on limitations as yet but I am convinced the regulations will be tight. Here in Poland for instance, product placement is sold in packages by broadcasters - usually with a minimum guarantee of 2 x 3 second exposures per episode. What isn't clear is how many brands can be exposed in this way in each show.

The timing of the announcement is interesting for two reasons. Firstly there is the evidence of a 'spoiling tactic' by the government. The Tories have engaged with the advertising/media community to draft various white papers on the future of broadcasting - it was understood that a softening of product placement regulation was one of the areas of interest. Secondly it comes at a time with ITV lobbying heavily for the removal of the CRR (a trading mechanism put in place by OFCOM at the time of the Carlton/Granada merging to avoid clients facing significant hikes in TV ad rates). Relaxation or removal of the CRR is by far a bigger deal for the beleaguered broadcaster. While broadcaster commentators like Peter Bazelgate reckon product placement could be worth up to £125m a year in the UK (based on the US experience of PP bringing in 5-6% of TV revenue).

I think this estimations are ambitious, great for headlines but probably unlikely to be reached for some time. Numerous reasons for this but a key issue will be the timelines that producers work to versus the speed with which clients tend to need to bring products/services to market. For a decent prime time drama, you are probably looking at 6-9 months between filming and airing. This timetable would put off any would be product placers - even a high profile broadcast sponsorship deal can go from deal to air in a matter of weeks and most clients businesses are based around the 2 month advanced booking deadline which UK broadcasters tend to insist on.

However that said, one can easily imagine the big winners here. It will be the shows that have shorter production schedules and offer bigger audiences - namely live talent/reality shows. Its no surprise that this picture of American Idol has been trawled out on all news outlets when this story broke. The deal between American Idol and Coke is reported to be worth $35m per year. Its a huge rating show, its live or 'as live' and I am sure its ad breaks and sponsorship billboards are very well sold, meaning product placement is the only way the broadcaster can maximise revenues in a hit programme. I imagine it'll go the same way in the UK.

In reality, the net benefit of the relaxation in product placement regulation is likely to be worth about £20-30m per year in the UK. A help but not the answer to commercial broadcasting's woes.
Despite UK movie going audiences being quite used to product placement in films, it will be a case of suck it and see on TV. I agree with Robin Wright's assessment on the Guardian today - like everything in advertising, product placement can be done well or badly (you'll see both in every James Bond film "Is that a Rolex", "No, I wear Omega"....and???).

To do it really well we, as the media agency community, need to add to our existing skill sets and learn from experiences in other markets. To ensure the UK does product placement better than anyone else we're looking for natural fit between brand and programme. Shoe-horning in will turn off audiences and only increase the pressure on the TV market.

Here's an example I was shown from Poland on perhaps how not to do it....

Product placement - Telekomunikacja Polska SA
Uploaded by mediafun. - Click for more funny videos.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Orange Warsaw Festival 2009

The latest installment in the cultural game of chicken which is the search for Poland's 2016 European Capital of Culture took place this weekend

The Orange Warsaw Festival is the second annual installment of a partnership between the telco giant and Warsaw city hall in an effort to convince Poles and more importantly, the Euro mandarins who'll decide, that Warsaw is indeed the most culturally rich, diverse and deserving city in Poland.
Warsaw and 6 other Polish cities (for the record: Gdansk, Torun, Lodz, Poznan, Lublin and Szczecin) are battling it our for the right to join a Spanish city (9 candidates there) as 2016 European Capital of Culture.

Its clearly an accolade which can pay back handsomely. A 2004 study by the European Culture Commission (Palmer Study) demonstrated that the choice of European Capital of Culture served as a catalyst for the cultural development and the transformation of the city. Plus the tourist dollar that is sure to follow, makes this a big deal in any country, let alone the 'newer' European territories.

So the Polish rivals are going at it hammer and tong to prove their worth. This is great news for inhabitants and tourists alike - in a country that loves a festival anyway, you can't move for them now (in Warsaw this weekend you could add a Jewish festival and Brazilian festival to the Orange affair).

It also presents opportunities for brands to get involved, to help candidate cities shoulder the financial burden of putting on big shows and get what they can in return in terms of engagement which an audience.

So far this summer, Poznan got out the traps early with a season of concerts which included a rare Polish outing for Radiohead .

Gdansk has been playing the Solidarity of Arts card - not surprisingly in the year Poland celebrated 20 years of democracy.

The Orange affair in Warsaw was perhaps as the capital city should offer. It was big - estimates of 35,000 people over the 2 days. It was set in a remarkable and hugely iconic (indeed symbolic) location, right underneath Stalin's Birthday Cake - the Palace of Science and Culture. And it was very accessible - free in fact.

I noticed that beyond the usual levels of event branding (clear ownership but not over the top) and Orange 'experience' areas. Orange also used the event to bring together many European employees for a conference in Warsaw. A good move this when this type of budget is under more scrunity than ever. And also a - for this was the weekend when Orange was without doubt the dominant brand in a city centre littered with special build posters and ambient media.

But the really interesting aspect for me is this public:private partnership approach. Its nothing new but it seemed that these 2 partners seemed to find a common ground - never easy as commercial requirements often run contrary to less flexible state-owned institutions. In harder economic times, this flexible and open appraoch to commercial content partnership is vital.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Hard hitting ambient poster from Australia

Something I stumbled on today while browsing random Blogger pages. Amongst the countless weird hobbyists I found this site by a Brazilian graphic designer.

The image below caught my attention, but I had to look twice to really see what was going on in this poster...

It's a campaign by the Australian Childhood Foundation - - broadly it follows a similar theme to NSPCC's 'Full Stop' and Child Line's 'Don't Hide It'.

However, I think the image and effect of this poster is almost overwhelming. Not least because of the incredibly powerful dehumanisation of the child.

Click on the above blog to see the making of video plus Melbournites reactions. What is really shocking is how few people react - at least someone 'rescued' the child dummy and got a nice surprise.

Plaudits to JWT Australia for their excellent pro bono work here.