by Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) I almost bought a Kindle a few years ago, not because I liked the idea of reading a book on a tablet, but because common consensus was that, in three years’ time, books wouldn’t be printed anymore. I resisted, but was pleasantly surprised to read recently that Kindle sales are falling, book sales are up and change is not as imminent as what we thought.

The theory for this is simple: basic human behaviour has changed very little over time. There is an enjoyment factor for the tactile experience of reading a book and, for most, the functionality of a digital platform will never replace that.

Media on Whiteboard by patpitchaya courtest of
Image by patpitchaya courtest of

Has rigor mortis set in?

In the media-planning world, that old media, TV, has been dead for so long, rigor mortis should have set in. But has it? Yes and no.

Maybe TV viewership in its strictest definition is down, but more visual content is being used by more people more often than ever before — and, most importantly, in places that were not even thought of five years or even 12 months ago.

But the motivation that first excited viewers about TV a hundred years ago is the same motivation that drives the person catching up on Game on Thrones on his tablet on the airplane seat next to me: humans enjoy visual storytelling. We did when we lived in caves and we still do so now.

Expected sensory experience

We did a media strategy the other day which, instead of laying out recommended media for a campaign, split intended activity by the expected sensory experience of consumers. It was organised into how they would See, Smell, Taste, Touch and Hear the brand.

Suddenly the media, channels, touchpoints (or whatever you would like to call them) became what they should be — the choice of the best possible distributors for the brand message to appeal most to the senses of the consumer. Easy and totally liberating from starting out with a list of media.

The most surprising aspect of applying a raw consumer filter is that media is not selected because it’s new or different.

Sensory appeal

This particular brand had developed a very catchy song. Radio is very good at building awareness of a catchy track, from when to play it to how the DJ talks about it. The consumer experience of being served a banner on an often visited website, however, had no sensory appeal whatsoever. Click rates are very low for a reason.

And the good news for TV? Sitting on your couch at home, fully engaged in good content on an HD screen, is a very receptive space and very good place to land a brand message. No traffic distractions while half-listening to the radio or busy searching for something specific online and half-distracted by a banner.

Exercise and sports scientist and low-carb proponent, Tim Noakes, talks obsessively about how we should be eating the way we have been for most of our existence. The time frame may be a lot shorter but, before brands start investing only in what they perceive as new media, apply some basic human-sensory insight. Human behaviour is what it is for very good reason.


Martin MacGregorMartin 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



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