This CEO Says Media Companies And Ad Agencies Are Clueless

In a refreshingly honest assessment of the advertising industry, Koos Baker, chief executive officer of Naspers, a South African-based global media company, says advertising people are very good at assessing consumer behavior but lack the ability to properly predict future trends. And with an interesting lack of hubris, considering he runs one of the world's largest media companies, he admits most media companies are in a sad state of affairs today. He says, "I think it’s pretty tough, because the media houses are clueless. The average media company in the world is in pretty poor shape. A few will survive. A few newspapers will make the transition from a print product to an electronic product as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have done. And the Financial Times, which is perhaps the most successful example. In South Africa, you might have a few electronic news services - News24 and a couple of others - making it. But most media houses are as clueless as ad agencies."

Hmm. Usually it goes the other way around. Every person working in an advertising agency wishes they worked in Hollywood in some capacity. After all, it's more glamorous than Madison Avenue. Well, like everything in life, things tend to go both ways. LA-based movie marketing firm BLT Communications has launched BLT+, a new division which will focus on marketing consumer goods and services. From movies to toothpaste. Interesting. Of the new division, BLT Communications CEO CLive Baillie said, “BLT+ leverages our formidable Hollywood expertise to focus on entertainment based solutions for consumer packaged goods, gaming, electronics, retail, QSR, spirits, and other product categories. We can now offer all brands, as well as our existing clients, a full menu of marketing options. This is a big step forward in the the evolution of our company.” The new unit merges BLT’s Marketing and its Digital, Social and Mobile divisions formerly led by Richard Sankey and Julianne La Marche, respectively. Mr. Sankey and Ms. LaMarche now share co-President titles at BLT+, reporting to Mr. Baillie. The new division totals 60 employees, including agency creative teams and directors, technologists, brand strategists, designers, social, and event specialists.

It's not often you hear about a missing person's report in the ad world but that's what's happening over in China this week. The CEO of Edelman in China, Steven Cao, has not been to work for over a week. No, he's not on vacation. No one knows where he is. Apparently, the disappearance is said to be connected to his cooperation with Chinese authorities which, in China, can mean he's being held for questioning. Ad Age reports, "One possibility is that investigators sought to speak to Mr. Cao about his ties to a famous TV news anchor who was detained by prosecutors in mid-July. That anchor, Rui Chenggang, founded a PR company with Mr. Cao over a decade ago, and in 2007, Edelman bought a majority stake in that firm, Pegasus Communications." Reportedly, it's all part of a country-wide crackdown on corruption.
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1 comment about "This CEO Says Media Companies And Ad Agencies Are Clueless".
  1. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC , July 31, 2014 at 1:54 p.m.
    I have found is there is the old school media people and the new college age types. I have been working in media on the net for nearly 15 years daily. Prior to that sales and marketing for twenty years. I consider myself a very creative person and have fresh ideas about media and big data. Yet I see the problem I see the transition between the old analog days and digital has created a number of new problems. The new generation of digital junkies have came from college and not really understand what the previous analog generation was about. The new digital media person hardly understands how print, newspaper and magazines worked successfully. They grew up with a smart phone, databases and computers. It is the divide between the old and new generation of media people that is the problem.
  • Dick Rich, Co-Founder of Wells Rich Green Dead At 84

    Copywriting legend Dick Rich passed away from a heart attack on November 1. He was 84. His daughter, Karen Rich, made his death known last week. Rich, along with Mary Wells and Rich Greene, was one of the founders of the storied Wells Rich Green ad agency and creator of classic 60's work for Alka-Seltzer and Benson & Hedges. 

    He was known for his confident approach to his work telling The New York Times in 1983: “Clients don’t come to me for O.K. advertising. They come to me for great, great advertising.”

    A real man’s man who will be missed.

  • Starcom Just Screamed 'Oh Sh*t!'

    Looking to consolidate its global media planning business with one agency, Mars has handed its $1,7 billion account to MediaCom after a review. In a review that included WPP, MediaCom ousted incumbent Starcom, which was one of 8 agencies handling a (substantial) slice of that $1.7 billion. 

    Of the account shift, a Mars statement read: "With the constant change in the media landscape, this model will allow us to better collaborate across our global business to drive efficiency, effectiveness, and coordination in our media planning. This change brings our planning model in line with our existing global creative agency structure, and will allow us to further focus media as a growth driver."

    The account has been with Starcom since 2010. Just a couple of months ago, Starcom lost the planning portion of the $575 million Anheuser-Busch InBev. It's a sad week for sure for the media-buying shop.
  • This Agency's Sizzle Reel Takes Food Porn to New Heights

    The Sizzle Reel. We've all got one, right? That two minute thrill ride highlighting your best work designed to make it undeniably clear your shop is the only shop worth considering when pitching a client. It's usually filled with bombastic statements no one outside marketing can understand backed by music only 22-year-old ravers might enjoy and edited in a way that would give a corpse an epileptic seizure. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

    But...not all sizzle reels are created equal. No siree. Taking food porn to an entirely new level, Brooklyn-based Brickhouse Projects is out with the aptly titled Our Sizzle Reel. Oh and what a sizzler it is! 

    For two full minutes you will be regaled with Barry White-like intonations as if the situation where the juiciest foreplay the biggest grill-themed food orgasm you may ever have had. Or will ever have. Ribeye. Bacon. Stir Fry. Parmesan-encrusted Tilapia. Tender, juicy teriyaki kabobs. A gas station burrito. Lots of Ferris Bueller closing credit "Oh yeahs." A cute dog. And a house fire. Wait, what? Oops.
  • This Agency's 'Post Holiday Party Apology Maker' Will Help You Save Face After Your Epic Party Fail

    So you've probably been to or are planning to go to a spate of holiday parties this month. Some of you will enjoy. Some of you will hate. And others, still, you will wish you never went and made a fool of yourself in front of your boss, co-workers, friends or, yes, the stranger you woke up next to the next morning.

    But Cleveland-based agency Brokaw has you covered. It has created the very ingenious Post Holiday Party Apology Maker. It's the internet's answer to the walk of shame. And all you have to do is click.

    When you visit the site, you choose who you want to address your letter to. You are then presented with the phrase, "I'm sorry I..." which is followed by a list of transgressions you wished to have avoided. You can string together as many apologies as you like. Your hand is held the entire time and your letter is auto-magically created Mad Libs-style. 

    You can then share your apology directly via email or more broadly (because, hell, you just might have no idea just how many people you offended) to Facebook and Twitter. Now isn't that a thoughtful and helpful tool we can all use right around this time of year? Yeah, it is. Give it a try. You know you need to.
  • Cossette Seals Deal With BlueFocus Communications

    Last month, we reported Canadian Agency, Cossette, was in talks with Chinese agency, BlueFocus Communications Group, to be acquired. That deal has been sealed for $210 million. 

    The sale involved the acquisition of a majority stake in Cossette's parent company, Quebec City-based Vision7 International, whose assets also include PR firm Citizen Relations. Of the acquisition, BlueFocus CEO Oscar Zhao said, “Having Vision7 join the BlueFocus family will help us gain better access to the North American market and emphasizes our ‘To Be Global’ strategy."

    In its apparent quest for global domination BlueFocus last year acquired London-based social agency We Are Social as well as a 20 percent stake in PR firm Huntsworth.

  • UK Agency Creates Designer Holiday Cards And Gift 'Rap'

    U.K agency Joint London understands that Christmas is all about giving. And this year they’ve decided to give in two rather special ways. And the agency created two Web sites to help them put that notion in motion.

    One site, Designer Santa, lets you download a set of fashion-themed Christmas cards. In creating the site, the agency imagined what would happen if, in an attempt to help them reboot their look, the top fashion designers of our time tailored their current collections to fit the "strong bones" of Father Christmas. There are some pretty cool-looking cards you can download once you pay with a Tweet.

    The second site, appropriately called Gift Rap, gives people the opportunity to win one of several gifts from a fluffy penguin to an iPhone 6. The agency invited 17-year-old LA-based rapper A-F-R-O to their offices to create some "off-the-head freestyle based on a selection of gifts that we gave him totally at random.” Check all that out here.
  • Charitable Toy Drive Leverages Ad Agency Staffers' Lazy Selfishness

    Ok so this charity effort from 360i is both generously charitable as well as indicative of rampant, agency-wide, obsessive selfishness. And what sort of charitable effort could result in such a dichotomy? Well, one that aims to give toys to children in need -- and at the same time, highlights the quirky behavior of agency types.

    In the effort's video, children are seen admiring -- with understandable wonderment -- the toy collections of obsessive agency types who pride themselves on their toy-themed cubicle shelf junk. And in a nod to the lazy selfishness that resides inside agency walls, the video says: "Now you can give without giving anything at all." 

    360i is inviting the industry to join their socially fueled #AgencyToyDrive that challenges the industry to give as many toys as possible to the deserving children at Harlem’s Children Zone, Year Up and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. And all you selfish, self-important ad types have to do is take a picture of your ridiculous toy collection in and around your cubicle.

    Participation is simple. Beginning December 15, anyone can share their toys and tokens via Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #AgencyToyDrive, and 360i will transform these submissions into real-life toy donations. The agency will create a collective digital toy bin at and the agency will donate a matching toy to charity. Agency elves will update the site to confirm when donations have been fulfilled. So get with it, lazy. Start snapping shots of your shelf ornaments.
  • Naked Santa Poses For San Francisco Creatives In Effort to Raise Money For Charity

    Last Wednesday, at an event that would either bring you a great degree of merriment, hilarity or disgust depending upon your proclivities for naked, chubby middle-aged men, San Francisco-based Heat hosted Sketchy Claus. And yes -- the event was indeed quite sketchy.

    At what the agency defined as a "cultured holiday evening with drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and attendees portrait drawing the real Santa," a roly-poly Santa Claus stripped off his red jacket and pants and struck a decidedly @MaleCopywriter-ish pose. Santa even struck Kim Kardashian's now ubiquitous "break the internet" pose.

    The agency developed Sketchy Claus as an alternative way to approach the holidays with a decidedly tongue-in-cheek exploration in art and creativity. Creative directors and artists from around the SF ad community participated in the event, with more than 50 portraits of a naked Santa in varying poses drawn during the evening. 

    Proceeds from ticket sales for the evening reached $2,000 for the charity One Warm Coat which, I am told, translates to 4,000 coats for recipients. Heat will auction the portraits on eBay in an effort to up the $2,000 take to $5,000.
  • This Ad Agency Is Getting (Rightly So) the Shaft From the FTC

    The Federal Trade Commission is taking action against two auto dealer groups and one ad agency for violating FTC guidelines that  prohibit deceptive advertising related to the cost of buying or leasing a car.

    According to the complaint against one dealer group, Billion Auto and its ad agency, Nichols Media, Inc., the dealerships and advertising company violated a 2012 FTC administrative order by frequently focusing on only a few attractive terms in their ads while hiding others in fine print (gee, no car dealer ever does that!), using distracting visuals or with rapid-fire audio delivery (a car dealer? no way!). 

    For example, some dealership ads promoted low monthly payments or attractive annual percentage rates and finance periods, while concealing other material items, such as low payments were for leases, not sales; major limits existed on who could qualify for discounts; and offers often included significant added costs.

    Billion Auto and Nichols Media have agreed to pay $360,000 in civil penalties to settle the FTC’s charges. Of the settlement, FTC Director Jessica Rich said, “If auto dealers make advertising claims in headlines, they can’t take them away in fine print. These actions show there is a financial cost for violating FTC orders.”

  • JWT Cites 2015 Trends and Cultural Shifts to Watch in New Report

    JWT is out with a new report entitled The Future 100, a deep dive into the trends and cultural shifts to watch in 2015. “The report examines the "what” and the “why” across several categories including Culture, Beauty, Brands, Food and Drink, Innovation, Lifestyle, Luxury, Retail, Sustainability and Technology.

    In Culture, the report spotlights the rise of the Mipsters (Muslim + hipster) and the growing number of Teetotal Millennials. It also looks at Experiential Public Spaces -- the transformation of public spaces via creative immersive projects -- and Experiences Going Dark, the advent of unsettling experiences as a form of entertainment. 

    Beauty trends include South Korean Beauty, a look at how the axis of influence is changing in the beauty world as the global appetite for South Korean products grows. In Brands, the report covers the rise of 1-for-1, or Third Way Commerce: While charity and profitability have been viewed as mutually exclusive, a “third way” of business models combines social good with sales and marketing, a popular approach with ethically minded Millennials.

    The Food and Drink section includes Cold-Pressed Everything (consumers are increasingly fetishizing cold-pressed and unprocessed foods), Guilt-Free To-Go (healthy, ethical fast food will gain momentum as many brands appropriate junk style for the Millennial generation) and Haute Vegan, a new wave of hip restaurant concepts which departs from the hippie vibe associated with meat-free dining.

    You can check out the report on Slidshare.
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