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Media View Profiles - Greg Allardice



Greg Allardice from strategic media planning and buying agency - Media Futures - will be sharing his views and opinions through MediaScope in the coming months.

To introduce Greg, we thought we'd start by asking him about his background and general industry views.  As you'll read Greg has a long history in our industry working for some of the largest and most known agencies and clients.  He has strong thoughts on the challenges and opportunities facing our industry today.

Amongst other insights, he also shares the story of his part in the start of Elle MacPherson's career.

If you'd like to respond to any of Greg's views please feel free to add your comments below....

Please tell us about your industry background?

Well……when I first made it into the ad business at age 18,I thought that this was the top of the tree and that I had finally arrived where I wanted to be.

Yes, I had secured my first job in the despatch department of George Patterson
Advertising Pty Ltd in Sydney, the largest ad agency of the era and the company that held some of the biggest accounts of the day.

Then,I was given my first job in Ad Land …here’s the broom, now sweep the floors……

It was these humble beginnings that made me realize it was a long way to the top in advertising, but in the next few years I did learn what made the industry tick and how to master what still remains an art not a science.

As my skills grew I did walking jobs delivering client letters, stereos, mats and artwork, then driving jobs to TV stations, radio stations and film production studios, being official driver for the Managing Director and General Manager and finally became the airfreight desk coordinator. What a journey so far!

Then 1 year as traffic dept co ordinator working with and supplying materials for the visualisers, copywriters and creative talent, account executives, photographers and artists.

Then my world changed and I was sent to the dreaded media department, that place where people toiled on media plans, checking confirmations, post reports and spending whole days on calculators. Was this really the place to be…… Media ??

Then the penny dropped, media was the place that the real agency money was
made…..millions of dollars of billings. But the process was the reverse to being in a
creative space…or so I thought.

In the following years, my industry awareness and experienced broadened with media roles at WB Lawrence the retail agency specialists, then 5 years with Lintas owned Impulse Media Services as the first media account executive and then 7 years as National Media Manager with the Coca-Cola Company.

Coupled with 5 years of formal studies in advertising and media, the training of those early days formed a well rounded view of the marketing and media processes.

Media was going through great change, through Federal Government policy changes, the onset of FM radio, the deregulation of regional FTA TV and the very early days of the dot.com era.

This set the scene for the media career that lay ahead as a business owner and the founder of Media Futures. Media was morphing into a global communications offering where sound media policy, media strategy, media planning and media buying shaped the business.

Through the fast and rapid pace of change, I have never forgotten that it is the
combination of the creative idea and the astute placement of media that brings the
communication alive.

One without the other is only 50% of the equation.

The combination of the creative and media elements remains to this day the foundation of Media Futures …where media is an art, not a science.

What are you involved in now?

As founder and owner of niche specialist company Media Futures Pty Ltd, my time is
spent searching and justifying the millions of options open to clients, marketers and advertisers.

Media Futures was designed as a business that predicts and plans for the future of the media, not just buying into what is happening today. Media Futures has no vested interests, the thinking is impartial, coupled with the unique benefits of customized media solutions.

As an independent media company, the role becomes one of trusted advisor and
transcends the traditional practices of buying lowest CPM or cheapest time and space with no understanding of market dynamics.

Media Futures works with the market of origin to fully understand the nuances and
subtleties of both cultural and business issues.

Media Futures operates on a global basis and takes the viewpoint that every market is different. Working face to face with both clients and the media sets Media Futures apart in what has become a faceless industry with little or no differentiation.

Please share a good memory or story from your early days in our
industry?

There are two stand out events from the early days....

The first was a sensational stunt executed superbly by a creative person at a well known advertising agency. The campaign name and those involved will be suppressed. But they know who they are.

It was 1983 on the eve of the launch of a major global campaign for Coca- Cola.

The Australian launch was 24 hours away and the campaign was ready to go after 6 months of planning, negotiation and creative preparation. The big day arrived and we all waited with anticipation for it to start on air that night.

Suddenly, out of nowhere came an urgent and well orchestrated telex signed by a
heavyweight from head office, addressed to both the advertising agency and client saying that the global launch has been cancelled and that all materials must be withdrawn immediately.

Panic stations all round as you can imagine, top levels phone calls between CEO’s,
meetings being called to address the issues, it was without doubt a disaster.

What could be done to salvage the situation. It sent the system into a flat spin for hours. Then later that morning came a phone call from the advertising agency saying that the prankster had been apprehended. Yes you guessed it a very clever creative executive devised the telex and the prank.

Needless to say the campaign went ahead and was highly successful.

The second story centred on yet another stressful situation...

It was the eve of a campaign shoot for a soft drink brand and talent search was going on all day. The talent requirement was for a good looking girl, slim and could wear a bikini well…..the commercial was for a low calorie soft drink.

After several models had been reviewed over the course of the casting session it was now after 5 pm and we were due to board a plane for the Gold Coast at 7am to shoot the next day.

But no talent was suitable for the shoot.  What should we do, call the commercial off?

Then the final talent walked in at 5.30 pm and we all looked at each other…..nodded in approval and said to the 19 year old girl…."you’ve got the job …can you be on the plane to the Gold Coast at 7am tomorrow?"

The reply was "oh ….I’ll have to call my mum" - the talent was Elle Mc Pherson and
it was Elle’s first TV commercial.

This commercial launched Elle’s international career. Elle was a true professional and a delight to work with.

What key similarities and differences do you see in our industry today?

Similarities -

The key similarity is that the medium is the message……..each medium has inherent
strengths and weaknesses. The same issue that media Futures comes across on a daily basis is how to effectively leverage a medium and maximize effective frequency patterns.

Reach is important but not at the expense of effective frequency. Effective frequency is what drives retention of message and drives long term brand recognition.

Differences -

On the differences …….is the continued fragmentation of the media and the dispersal of audiences over many similar looking and sounding channels.

This major difference effectively makes advertising and communication more expensive as it costs more to reach a mass market.

This difference leads to the need to think niche when planning and avoid the gross
wastage that comes from trying to be all things to all people.

One size does not fit all in today’s media market.

The fragmentation of media means that you can be highly focused and clearly define a target audience. This leads to specific planning and buying that targets exactly who you need to reach and avoid the clutter of mass market tactics.

What opportunities and challenges do you see in today’s media market?

The opportunities in media are endless given the explosion of new offerings particularly in the online digital category and since the advent of 4 G broadband.

Online digital is the land of opportunity if handled right and in a balanced way.

It is fair to say you can now launch a new product and nuture existing brands purely online. Hence the myriads of online digital experts that have appeared in the past 2-3 years.

However be warned, one new medium such as digital online does not make a complete media campaign. Such is the fragmentation of user bases even in the digital online space.

A media campaign now requires a spread of traditional and digital online to be truly
effective. The analogy of the chicken and the egg still applies. If an audience does not know about a product, brand or service then the campaign falls flat.

There are interesting studies showing the correlation between main stream traditional media and the online digital space.

Main stream drives awareness and image building, whilst digital online delivers the
content, rich detail and online sale.

What can our industry do better right now?

The answer is simple…training, training and more training

The media industry suffers from well educated people that really know nothing about the nuts and bolts of the media industry.

Every new recruit to the media industry should do at least 3 months basic training,
working in every department and gaining knowledge of what makes the media come alive.

In the 21 st century the media industry consists of faceless people who sit behind a computer screen and punch in numbers all day. This is not the media industry.

Hence the dumbing down of the industry and lack of rapport between buyer and seller. The media industry will always a remain a people centric business dominated by personalities and content.

The media industry needs to go back to basics and train employees in the art of communication, how to negotiate and build business rapport.

Any forecasts – how do you see our industry evolving?

Forecasting is relatively easy. The media industry will continue to fragment and the
audiences become more scattered.

This leads to increased costs of effectively reaching your target audience.

The dumbing down of main stream media is a constant concern as programmers go for the lowest common denominator in content, to attract audiences, in the vain hope that they are entertained.

The specialist media such as Pay TV, Online websites, magazines and community radio are taking share from main stream media, as audiences seek out what they want rather than be force fed B grade content.

Main media beware of irrelevance.

The media consumer has too much choice in a small country such as Australia.
If every media proprietor reviewed their offering based on what consumers want, the media landscape would be very different.

Please share some advice with those starting out or considering entering our
industry?

Media is addictive. From the outside it looks like Hollywood every day.

Once inside the picture is very different. For commercial media it is all about creating content that attracts advertising dollars. This applies to all media that need to make money to prosper.And there are thousands of mediums available.

Only the ABC and it’s sub divisions are given government funds to exist.

Therefore, new comers always remember the golden rule, that no matter which part of the media you work in, be it buyer or seller, that great content leads to increased users which in turn attracts advertisers.

Do everything in your power to nuture great content and represent your media portfolio with enthusiasm based on the true facts. Back up your claims with research and audited numbers. Never make false claims that cannot be audited.

Always ask the question, what can we do better to make our offering number one.

Where do you get your industry information?

Industry information is gained from industry journals, online newsletters, syndicated research, audited audience figures and arguably the best way all of all, talking face to face with the media owners and managers in their own market.

Face to face dealing is almost non existant in the media today and needs to be reinstated as the primary method to build trust and rapport.

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