'Entrepreneurial Media' Pays Off For KSL, Wins Navistar, Other Attention-Hungry Accounts

If clout were the mantra for media services agencies during the great consolidation of the 1990s, nimble appears to have become a big new business factor for this decade as clients look for agencies that can apply fast, actionable insights about consumer media behavior. That, at least, is how KSL Media chief David Sklaver explains the spunky media shop's recent new business roll, and why it is winning in reviews vs. much bigger, and ostensibly better resourced media outfits. In its latest win, KSL beat out Carat, Starlink and incumbent MPG for truck manufacturer Navistar International Corp.'s account following a highly strategic review. Though KSL now ranks as one of the largest independent media services firms, it won the business not on the basis of its size, but on the merits of its strategic thinking and its ability to envision Navistar's customers - small trucking fleet operators and independent truck owners - as media consumers.

"Our approach was very different," Sklaver boasts. "In our brief, rather than just speaking to fleet owners, we uncovered some very interesting consumer insights into their business. One of them was that among drivers, there is great pride in the truck itself. That if a company has great looking trucks that will attract drivers."



The winning plan calls for KSL to harness that insight by reaching truck owners in an array of unconventional media and "non-media" options that utilizes what KSL calls a "day-in-the-life" approach to planning. The options include business and consumer media, as well as things that might not normally be considered media.

KSL executives declined to describe specific media options plan to apply, but Corporate Media Director Tom Stolfi says they include both "digital and physical properties that are endemic and unique to a trucker's lifestyle. That might mean heavy use of satellite radio channels aimed at truckers, or developing place-based media strategies around tuck stops and diners truckers are known to frequent.

The strategy was a key factor for Navistar, which needed to find a way to leverage its estimated $10 million to $15 million budget beyond the traditional trucking trade publications and conventional radio advertising buys that would normally be called for.

KSL's Sklaver calls that strategy "entrepreneurial media" and he claims it is one of the reasons KSL is picking off smaller, but good-sized media accounts in the $10 million to $50 million range that might not necessarily get the attention from bigger shops.

"We've identified a niche and we're going after it. We're going after the companies that hunger for the old-time, hands-on attention that they used to get from agencies," he says.

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