Real Media Riffs - Wednesday, Jul 2, 2003

Car Jamming: Automotive advertising fascinates me. In no other category can you see so many different strategies and tactics. It's like advertising laid bare. It's go hard or go home, and it seems like many campaigns over the past few years have opted for go hard. We've got Celine Dion. Unnamed bands bringing Mitsubishi to the big beat. Lance Armstrong riding for Subaru. Tiger riding in a Buick. VW making fun of its own cars. I could go on, but I'm sure you get the picture. But here's my question: What is the consumer looking for in automotive ads? There's no way that every different demographic group is clamoring for a different approach. And there's also no way that an auto brand can be successful by filling the airwaves with "no money down" offers. So if the automotive category is going to continue to lead the ad spend recovery, and I believe it will, the ad industry has no higher priority than figuring out what its customers want and expect from products and campaigns that support them. And by the way, I drive a Volvo wagon because I have two kids and I guess I'm supposed to. And I bought a Honda Civic to get to work because I got a great email deal on the Internet. Go figure.

Disconnect: According to a Continental Consulting Group survey that appeared in Adweek last week, 81 percent of all clients think their agency is overpaid. Ok. No big surprise there in this time of cost-cutting, although I would say that's a screaming need to make sure the client knows exactly how you spend your time. But here's the killer. That same 81 percent think agency people are stretched too thin. How can you say your agency is overpaid if your individual contacts there are stretched too thin? The agency-client relationship suffers, I think, from that stretched condition. The answer is in communication between the two parties. And that needs to be a commitment from both sides. My sense is a bit more could come from the brand angle.

At The Buzzer: If you haven't seen Ellen DeGeneres on HBO yet, you should. I'm not a huge fan, but her new stand-up routine is all about media in the time of no attention span. Among her predictions: get ready for the 30-second sitcom.

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