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Working Separately For The Same Goal
The creative and the media department of an advertising agency work as separate units. This is resulting in some serious repercussions.
Its a long way away from the times when the media guys in a creative agency (which would have just been called an advertising agency back then) sat a couple of doors away from the creative department.

Thats when a copywriter could hop across and have a chat with a media buyer on innovation possibilities, sizes and material deadlines. "Today, once the CD has been burnt, your work is swallowed into some sort of digital consciousness. However, earlier we use to go an extra inch to suit each others objectives. So execution used to be more of a team effort," says Satbir Singh, vice-president, creative, Euro RSCG. While unbundling could have brought its economies of scale to the media business, it may not have been as good for the quality of advertising produced at large.

"Earlier everybody used to be an advertising professional first. Now, that is missing. And in turn, it has affected the quality of media planners. They have become like mathematicians or computer programmers," feels Sanjeev Shukla, Manager-Marketing, Hyundai Motors. AORs might have made business sense for the media agencies, but ad professionals today arent quite comfortable with the idea that creative guys dont even know the counterparts, and the only interactions are telephonic conversations about the status of release material. Santosh Desai, President, McCann Erickson says that the need of the hour is cross-fertilization of skill sets: "Media agencies will end up becoming islands if they only operate in a buying environment without integrating with the others."

Sometimes, it leads to a disconnection between what are optimal media opportunities for a brand. "They tend to get into this trap and push the media they have bought out of a great deal. But that media option might be a waste of money for the client at that time because of the target audience not matching etc," observes Salil Kapoor, Marketing Head, consumer audience business, Microsoft, who dealt with five creative agencies besides a media planning and buying agency while at his last assignment with LG Electronics.

In spite of all the systems-intranets, extranets, conference calling and e-messaging-what seems to lacking is the crucial touch-point meetings of creative and the media agency to update on progress of a particular campaign. What happens with many media agencies do the media experts think that they get the brief much after the idea has been crystallised by the client and creative agency interaction, which doesnt leave much room for discussion. "Somewhere we as clients havent institutionalized interaction between creative and media.

I think we are partly responsible for this situation," adds Shukla. Some media agencies are trying to bridge that gap. "In our agency, we work closely with Grey, and I consciously send all my new trainees to go and brainstorm with them in joint meetings," says Jasmin Sohrabji, president, South Asia, MediaCom.

Theres hope though, because another benefit of interaction might be falling by the wayside: release opportunities for scam ads. "Earlier they (media planners) used to come running to us to tell us about free space on their own initiative to help," says Ashish Chakravarty, recently appointed creative head of Contract Delhi. But these days, the divide means that creatives are missing out on a lot of opportunities to use free space to releasing work aimed at awards juries. Now could this be the problem that will serve as a catalyst in bridging the yawning gulf?
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Posted on : 9/11/2005
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