Column: The New Next - Passionate Partnership

  • by June 22, 2005
By Paul Woolmington

Last month we celebrated a group of unsung heroes - our clients. This month, I turn to another group without whom many great innovations and "new nexts" wouldn't have happened - the great community of media partners.

As part of The Media Kitchen's manifesto, we list some Rules of Engagement (see Rule No. 5 refers to changing the buyer versus seller paradigm and creating new relationships that are akin to partnerships. Why do we say this? Because nothing great was ever achieved without passion and partnership or, in most cases, without partners (notably clients and media owners). Ultimately, in this complex new environment, you either collaborate or you die!

How many times have we seen an agency take all the credit for a great idea when it actually required multiple partners, including the media, to bring it to market in a powerful way? I challenge future awards competitions, including media's, to acknowledge many of the unrecognized partners and avoid the silo mentality that exists in our industry, (especially as manifested in awards competitions).

So what are the "why didn't I think of that" innovations coming from the media community? A very recent example comes from that whip-smart group of sales folks at Yahoo! The Internet media giant partnered with BMW for the major launch of the car marketer's fifth-generation 3 Series.

The big idea was this: Coinciding with the launch, from May 5-8, Yahoo! agreed to change the letter "e" on its finance and sports pages to the number "3." Each "3" linked to the BMW Series 3 site, and for each first viewing, Yahoo! served up a rich media animation of the new model. Subsequent visits drove consumers to the Series 3 site. The idea caught people's attention in a fun, engaging, and uniquely BMW-branded way. The second example is from our own organization, The Media Kitchen, and highlights how partnership can extend beyond convention, unconfined by budget size or even the characteristics of the medium.

Last summer, we and Song Airways decided to use rock and roll's 50th anniversary as a platform for a major promotion (The anniversary is based on the date of Elvis Presley's first hit.). We turned to a newspaper partner, Metro International, which has a presence in New York and Boston, two of Song's critical hubs, and created a new use of the medium that quite literally brought the promotion to life.

On the launch day, we activated Metro's army of 250+ newspaper distributors by outfitting them as Elvis look-alikes. They distributed the newspaper and literally sang the promotion. In addition, we partnered with Metro to create the first-ever two-sided coverwrap of the newspaper. The coverwrap acknowledged that the medium is also much more than just a newspaper - it's actually more like a poster when you're in the subway. Who can resist looking at someone else's paper when it's facing you?

The Elvis move used the medium as a poster for the transit target we were after, as well as providing body copy and ads within the newspaper itself. And it wouldn't have been possible without the participation of Song and Metro International, helping to assure success through detailed teamwork.

We need to break down the paradigm of "I'm buying and you're selling." As Elvis might say, "Thank you. Thank you very much...[for collaborating]."

Paul Woolmington is president-CEO, founder, and chief chef of The Media Kitchen. (

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