Media Redefined: The temptation of more in advertising
by Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) There is a great saying that I try and apply every day: “You can’t do big things if you distracted by small things.” I’m constantly decluttering my desk, my inbox, my house, my life in an attempt to make sure that I am only focusing on the big things. So why aren’t media owners?
Earlier this year I spent a week in Madrid. I did the normal mix of plazas and art museums but I always like to go to a sporting event or sports ground while I’m in a new place. Aside from my love for sport, it’s a great insight in to local culture and passions. During that week, the Madrid Open tennis tournament was on and, although unfortunately Real Madrid wasn’t playing, I managed to visit the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. They were very different experiences but both were exceptional venues, and getting to watch Novak Djokovic live was an additional highlight. But what really struck me about both experiences was how curated the branding was.
There was a real sense that a huge amount of thought had been put into both protecting the integrity of the venue and the event, the spectator experience and, as importantly, enhancing the brand opportunity. The brands had completely bought into the idea of simplicity and that less is more.
At the tennis, there were only two brands which were permanently on the court:
- One was Rolex, with its deep green, gold clock and match time — so recognisable at all tennis and golf majors and a lesson in sticking to a consistent brand message, where the medium is the message. Nothing talks premium precision-timing like being courtside at Wimbledon and teeside at Augusta.
- The other was Ricoh, the camera brand, on the side of the umpire’s chair. Again, perfect placement and having the best view in the house says enough about what the brand stands for.
The only other branding were the digital boards around the side of the court, in a soft blue-green which stood out for TV viewers but was almost indistinguishable for the spectator.
At the Bernabéu, all three levels and 85 000 seats of it, amazingly there were also only two brands visible: next to the screen on each end was a big Adidas/Fly Emirates logo — and that was it. The rest of the stadium was clean and nothing else to distract — except, of course, when the Real Madrid players were on the field, with Fly Emirates and Adidas on their shirts. Talk about ownership and making a statement!
I’m often staggered when I walk into stadia in South Africa; there seems to be an obsession with making space for as many brands as possible. It’s a complete mess and I can’t believe that any brand is getting any value at all. This temptation of more is apparent everywhere, whether it’s in stadia, billboards on the side of the road, radio feature sponsorships or way too many and long ad breaks on TV.
More brands, less impact
Brands are demanding a place in premium spaces and media owners are happily obliging. But more brands actually mean less impact. I always recommend that brands look for an open space where their voice will be heard without distraction. If brands want to stand out in a big way, they need to ensure that the small things are not distracting all the attention away.
Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) is managing director of Connect, an M&C Saatchi Company, with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Martin has spent 18 years in the industry, and has previously worked at Ogilvy and was MD of MEC Nota Bene in Cape Town. He contributes the monthly “Media Redefined” column, in which he challenges norms in the media space, to MarkLives.com.
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