Limits of a global approach to media

Global media deals have existed for some time yet have never reached their full potential, due to the lack of a co-ordinated approach by clients, media owners and agencies.

But there is a growing momentum. News Corporation’s News Corp One, a unit specifically set up to construct worldwide media deals across the conglomerate’s 35 businesses, is now a year old. And last week Carat International revealed it will send account manager Jamie Edwards to the US to set up Carat International North America. His task will be to stimulate global media deals.

In theory both these initiatives have a clear logic behind them. Media owners, some agencies, and clients have built global empires; so partnerships across geographical boundaries logically follow.

Yet media owners and agencies agree there are still significant stumbling blocks, the greatest being the client.

Eric Clemenceau, senior vice-president CNN international advertising sales Europe, at Turner Broadcasting System Europe, says: “Only a few companies worldwide can make a global decision outside the US.

“A lot are organised on a pan-regional basis and it’s difficult for the regions to work together and commit to one big project.”

Because of difficulties in identifying the appropriate client contact, approaches are generally made by CNN’s parent company Time Warner/Turner through media agencies, where they are operating in a developed market such as the UK.

But Kayne Lanahan, senior vice-president of News Corp One, prefers to approach the client rather than the agency.

She says: “We want to make sure we have a committed decision by the client. Then we put together a team of appropriate specialists, including sales promotion and public relations experts as well as agencies.”

The aim of talking to the client first is to avoid political battles between creative agencies, which tend to favour a TV campaign, and media agencies, which prefer an integrated approach (as long as they can co-ordinate it, that is).

Mike Gorman, regional director Europe Daimler-Chrysler for Bozell Worldwide, says that agencies are still not as close to these decisions as they would wish.

He says: “Ultimately clients and media owners will get together and make a decision on the extent of a project and who will manage it.”

However, Gorman sees a limit to the number of clients which have brands suitable for this kind of global exploitation. Even Procter & Gamble has relatively few worldwide brands and, like many companies, promotes its products quite differently in various markets.

He adds: “In reality few clients have global brands and even fewer have global brands which have global messages. Knowing the commercial worth of these deals is sometimes impossible.”

Clemenceau estimates that about 300 companies would be suited to advertising on a pan-regional basis and between 50 and 100 on a global basis.

So, it is hardly surprising that Time Warner/Turner’s deals have so far focused on pan-regional projects such as Vision of Europe, which attracted five sponsors including BMW and Oracle. The sponsors were allocated premium ad positions in a Time magazine special issue, in Fortune’s special report and exclusive positioning in CNN International’s Vision of Europe programming as well as exclusive ad banner promotions on a dedicated Website. A similar project was developed for the Latin American market called Leaders for the New Millennium.

Sponsors are sought for other projects, including one for Asia marking the 50th anniversary of the Chinese revolution and in Europe a package organised around Telecoms 99, the European trade fair, which occurs every four years.

Wil Merritt, publisher and vice-president at Time Atlantic and Publisher Fortune Europe, says: “These deals have to fall at the right time for the advertisers. It has to coincide with a new product launch, a company name change. Alternatively, the company may have decided on a global advertising campaign.”

Set up last April, News Corp One is keeping quiet about the deals it has struck, which include an integrated media deal for Ford in the US.

Also a deal with Yahoo!, reported to be worth £12.5m, which included sponsorship of Fox Broadcasting’s programming before the Super Bowl and a sneak preview of Fox’s new animated series Family Guy. Included in the deal is a cross promotion with 20th Century Fox’s for the summer blockbuster Next To You.

The Lanahan team is now trying to sell a pre-developed package to advertisers around The Simpsons, which includes the launch of a video through Home Video, and a book through HarperCollins.

There is always room for negotiation, but essentially these deals pivot on the “added value” of being placed in the right media surroundings, rather than on mass discounts.

Nevertheless, Carat International managing director Brian Jacobs recognises he can exploit the fact that clients have limited marketing budgets. He says: “There’s an opportunity to create money for the global and pan-regional projects from parts of the client’s marketing budget, such as public relations and sponsorship, rather than just targeting the media spend.”

The benefits for media owners and agencies of the global media deals are clear – a greater share of the advertiser’s pot for their respective organisations. However, for the client they mean riskier expenditure with no satisfying way of measuring consumers’ reaction to the campaign which sprawls the globe.


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