Meanderings of a Media Madala.

You know you are turning into a media madala, when the people who come to you with questions look like they should be asking for help with their Matric homework, not their MBA theses. I was recently posed five questions by one of Mzansi media’s up and coming Doogie Howser impersonators. And those of you who don’t have to Google “Doogie Howser” to know who he is, will understand where I’m coming from.
Question 1: In your view, how has the landscape of advertising agencies changed over the last decade?
The landscape hasn’t changed, we’ve just moved to another planet. Return on investment means that ad campaigns actually have to work now. It’s not enough to give your client a statue of a really nice indigenous bird or tell them that they are getting a bigger discount than they did last year. They actually want to make more money in sales or enhanced brand value, than they invest in advertising and that’s really annoying. Nothing worse than being checked up on! Why can’t they just take our word for it and let things return to the way they were 30 years ago. And as for consumers, what’s their problem? Why don’t they just borrow money and buy the things we show them? Stuff the global recession! Where’s the consumer’s commitment to award winning advertising?
Question2: Are advertising agencies, structurally, in a healthy state?
Agencies, whether creative or media, have a simple problem. Their client’s don’t have confidence in them anymore. Unfortunately, clients are actually just getting what they pay for. Why is it that when clients buy cheap whisky and second-rate underwear, they are not shocked to discover that their drinks taste crap and they walk around with a wedgie all day, but when they buy cheap advertising, they are absolutely staggered to discover that it doesn’t work and that they have, in fact, got precisely what they paid for? So who’s going to blink first? If agencies don’t gear up they aren’t going to get the respect they desperately want.
My father taught me that there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who demand respect … and those who command respect! Agencies used to be in one of these two categories. Now they are in the other one. You can work out which.
Is that healthy? Perhaps you could research it? Research solves absolutely everything in advertising!
Question 3: What are your views on remuneration to agencies in general. Are retainer fees a sustainable manner of survival?
Is the agency retainer fee model sustainable?
Let’s see what Chris de Burgh has to say on the matter …
Chris: “Don’t pay the ferryman, don’t even fix a price, don’t pay the ferryman till he gets you to the other side”.
Agency: “But there’s trouble ahead, so you must pay me now”!
Chris: “Don’t do it”!
Agency: “You must pay me now”!
Chris: “Don’t do it … until he gets you to the other side”.
Fees are sustainable as a remuneration mechanism but not at the current level. It’s not the principal of the fee that is the problem but the size of the fee. On the other hand, you can’t charge clients for badly reasoned frivolous rubbish. Agencies have to up their game as well.
Question 4: Is there a resistance to the reengineering of the advertising industry as whole? Yes/No?
Yes, but only by the people who work in the advertising industry and people who don’t understand digital and social media! Don’t worry about the ANC Media Commission, what we need in Mzansi is a government commission to stop people from fast forwarding through TV commercials and playing about on YouTube.
“The people want UGC”, you say? Well, let them eat print!
Mayibuye media planning. Phansi YouTube! Phansi!
And finally, the big question.
Question 5: What is your opinion on a future model for a given advertising agency in South Africa?
You want to know what the future model of a given advertising agency in South Africa will be? Don’t ask me, mate. Google it!

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