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I’ve been working in the media industry for the five years I’ve lived here in Fiji and for more than ten years in the United States before that. Although the first couple years locally had me primarily focused on the online side of the industry, I personally believe very little differs between the mediums. Advertising and marketing is about communication at the end of the day and whether that communication takes place on a computer screen, over the radio or on the pages of a magazine, it should still have the responsibility of being effective.
If this is the case, then why does it seem the advertising industry in Fiji is more focused on pushing pixels rather than actually creating communication strategies for its clients? Many of our clients approach us with requests for products and/or services they want to advertise to the public. Very rarely, however, are we given directives that require a percentage increase in sales after running a campaign. This is not the fault of the client. I think it’s the fault of agencies for not pushing and marketing the value of the work they’re bringing to the table.
What we do get here is a lot of agency complaining that clients are out there looking for the absolute lowest cost advertisement they are able to get produced. This may be true but again, it’s the agencies fault for letting this happen.
Consider the following, typical scenario. Client “A” has a new service and wants to generate public interest for it as part of a co-ordinated sales effort. They approach an advertising agency who responds with a pricing sheet on how much it will cost to run a campaign incorporating print, radio and tv (web campaigns are apparently still a novelty and not part of most agency offerings in Fiji at this point). The client looks at the costs, perhaps makes a few changes and then sends the agency away to go make things pretty. The agency returns after a few weeks with their creative, it gets placed in the papers, on the radio and on the television and the product is then officially launched.
There’s an inherent flaw in this process. Namely, at what point does the agency take responsibility for the effectiveness of their work? If the advertising done results in less sales than what was forecast by the client, should the agency not then take on some of the responsibility? Obviously, there are a handful of variables that can account for sales targets not being hit (i.e.; poor distribution, customer service, etc...) but for the purposes of this article, I’m arguing for some agency responsibility.
Clients will continue to ask for lower campaign pricing because the one thing agencies keep giving them are messages that involve some ground-breaking and novel ideas such as “buy this product and enter a draw to win this!”. We’re cheapening our own industry, it seems. The argument I’ll most likely hear back on that point is “those campaigns are effective in Fiji and result in good sales for clients.”. That might be the truth but the repeated focus on coming up with the same old thing lacks originality and reduces the value of the message in the minds of clients. It also ultimately reduces the amount of money agencies can charge for the same old work.
A recent article I read about the state of advertising in the United States also made a similar claim about the perceived value of agency work in the minds of clients. The argument in that article was that instead of clients compensating agencies based on their contribution towards the creation of wealth, clients instead used labour as the metric for evaluating work effort. Intellectual property is not recognised locally (or abroad at times) as a valuable asset.
When the most common advertising strategy in this country involves drowning consumers in the same messages over and over again across radio, tv, billboards, and print ads, it does become hard to propose a change.
However, measurement and success from advertising appear to be the one area that most agencies and creatives are not standing behind when it comes to selling their work to their client base. I think those of us in this industry need to change and I write that not intending to get all “Jerry McGuire” on your asses. It’s better business for our clients and better business for ourselves.
Ok...rant over. Feel free to send me comments at email@example.com.
From MAILIFE Magazine, October 2007