Wednesday, 24 June 2015

meeja lovies

I’m watching the new series of Spooks on BBC Entertainment, well, actually I’m watching the new BMW 7 series ad, one from Standard Bank, and a few DSTV things about programmes I’ll never find before they finish. Oh, and of course, that stupid and intensely annoying Pedigree Dog Food commercial with the appalling child and his incontinent pooch Scampy and an ad spend that seems as bottomless as the pockets of Manchester City FC. All wrapped around Spooks.

Which brings me to my bugbear for the week. Media buying. Now done properly a good bit of properly targeted media buying is a silver bullet into the heart of the unsuspecting consumer as opposed to the shotgun employed by so many agencies.

AR’s and Neilson, are just lists of shallow numbers that can be made to dance
to any tune to prove or disprove a campaign’s success depending on the bias of the questioner. Statistics can be made to show anything, is 2% Fat milk a dairy product containing 2% fat, or one that is 2% less fat than full fat? I have no idea and I worked on a major cow product account for several years. Centralised buying, where the media agency turns the traditional blackmail of the media owners on its head by offering to bulk buy for several clients for significant discounts, is the latest threat to incisive, targeted and creatively bought space.
The luddites who buy airtime and press space by the yard, repeating what was bought last year and the year before will tell you it’s a science. The really good media buyers, who are really planners, know it’s an art form and as difficult as predicting a summer hurricane in a summer of calm.

Now I’m the first to agree that there are a great many ads that should be buried and buried damned deep. The latest Outsurance TV campaign where the old fashioned guys stand around threatening people with old fashioned insurance schemes only to be clumsily patronised by some suave git in a bad pullover is a perfect case.

Or the Med Lemon ad with the rather spooky animated torso, I don’t know if they couldn’t afford a to animate a head or ran into one of those PC moments where the client couldn’t decide what colour the guy should be to appeal to our diverse consumer base. Whatever the cause the effect is garbage. It waves a cup of Lemon drink around, presumably because it has no mouth to drink the stuff, and the VO warbles on rather surprisingly about headaches. Well it is winter after all I suppose and South African defences are naturally down, presumably why Adland chooses now to launch an assault on their weakened collective psyche.

And then there’s the one that makes my art director’s tousled blonde head spin like a scene from the Exorcist, the Verimark ad about de-skinning your feet with their new Pedishaver, or whatever. (I’ve actually never managed to get past the shaving skin off feet pictures to finds out its actual real name). Anyway, some well-meaning media person has booked all the space around my dinnertime to run this appetite suppressor, it is beyond tasteless. Pieces of junk that no one should have to sit through unless they are watching Reality TV and media land are right to try to protect us from them as much as possible.

Finally, a word to my fellow creative types, or indeed anyone involved in the making of ads, the next time you have a great idea go find yourself a friendly media planner. They used to be in the next office but these days it’s often hard to find them in the same town. But when you track one down stick with him, or her, they can make you as famous as the artiest director, trendiest muso or prettiest of avant-garde photographers. Otherwise you might as well just be talking to yourself.

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