The keynote address on the second day of the NATPE Conference 2008 brought the attention back to a more evolved way of using the television medium to offer content that could make sense for the advertiser. The problem of the elusive consumer, who was either digitally zapping out advertising messages or surfing channels during breaks, has been discussed time and again. However, in this keynote address, Shelly Lazarus, Chairperson and CEO, Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide, took the discussion to another level, and brought in the importance of understanding the “brand idea”.
Lazarus said, “Being the brand custodians, we understand what the brand stands for, what it wants to communicate and what properties it has. That gives us the ability to draw on insights that can take a brand’s communication forward. However, in today’s time when we are looking at engaging consumers with a brand, and there are new challenges that mediums like television are facing, we can go only so far. After that, we need the content creators, which is why we need to collaborate and work more closely now.”
When asked on the perception that at least as far as branded entertainment was concerned – and its re-emergence as we see today – it appeared that it was the media agencies that owned that space more than the creative agencies. Lazarus countered, “How can you take this forward without the brand idea in the centre of it? Whether it is what was done for Dove – campaign for real beauty, 40 and fabulous – without the brand idea, the brand cannot be brought in the communication meaningfully. So, it is not about anyone owning it, everyone has to work together in this.”
Lazarus was of the opinion that even the consumers did not know how they were changing their media consumption patterns. She explained, “It’s not so much of a conscious decision to be on a particular media than it is to be on a medium that engaged you in some manner. Since the consumer is on so many different channels, the art is how do you take the content that you have and distribute it intelligently.”
The big debate on media and creative working together also came forth in the discussion, where Lazarus candidly stated that channel planning and the creative heads should work closely. “Magic happens when you put those guys together. There is creativity in asking the right questions that can give you unprecedented solutions, but you have to ask them the right way, to the right people,” she observed.
For Lazarus, the ultimate test of a good idea was in the sales. However, she said that in the changing times, there were new mediums that allowed the engagement that would eventually deliver. However, how does one ensure that the mediums are delivering, and there is return on investment (RoI)? Lazarus replied, “That is not how you look at measuring effectiveness and impact. The more sophisticated advertisers are looking at the whole portfolio of a plan and then, what that achieves together. You cannot expect every component of that plan to give you return on investments. Surely, you keep fine-tuning these various ingredients as you go forward, and keep creating more evolved media mixes, but there is a long term thinking that comes in play there.”
Lazarus cautioned that the consumer was the final regulator and the challenge was to reach them tastefully than mindless bombing with product messages. She reasserted that the 30-second ad spots still had a long way to go, and that television continued to be a very powerful medium for any communication.