Collaboration between Creative and Media

I was fortunate to attend the JCDecaux UpFront session a couple of weeks ago and have been thinking about it ever since. It was a fantastic morning, with a brilliant schedule of speakers, including Sir John Hegarty and Justin Gibbon, plus guest video appearances from Mark Ritson and Les Binet, all kept on their toes by Morag Blazey

Sir John Hegarty always inspires me, if anything, in saying what you really think. He seems to see the media and marketing world fairly black & white, and he has the ability to cut through all the fluffy language & the self-imposed, self-importance that is often perpetuated in a room of industry professionals.

What resonated with me most, and rather frustratingly, is that the huge gap between media and creative still remains, and doesn’t appear to be coming together any time soon. Common sense tells us that working together, can create compelling, impactful, memorable campaigns. And the reverse is also true, creating a memorable campaign for all the wrong reasons when scheduled in the wrong place, as the image above demonstrates.

A key mantra for the many that enter the industry is “the right audience, with the right message, at the right time, in the right place.  Which in itself, means creative and media working together to accomplish these basic principles. The lack of communication/collaboration between the creative dept. & the media dept. has become self-perpetuating.

I have never understood why the two aren’t working side by side to amplify their client’s message, sharing in the common goal. Closing that gap between DOOH creative and media placement is a personal passion of mine and in theory, should be so easily achieved and one where everyone wins. The resistance in some instances is territorial, but more than anything it’s habit, nothing more than “we’ve always done it this way.”

Sadly, the issues often originate from clients, they can be their own worst enemy, defeating themselves before the off. If clients brief everyone together they will always be the biggest winners, they may have to referee collaboration in the earlier days as things settle, but if they persevere they will see the benefits, those that don’t adapt will fall by the wayside.

One of the driving factors when I created Cheil Media, was to both physically and strategically immerse media into the creative process. We sat the media planning/buying in the middle of the creative floor so in an instant they were able to bounce ideas and concepts, overhear issues or concerns both ways, exchanged inspirations before they were lost to distraction, involving all teams before putting any crosses on a plan.

There was a bit of back to basics. We dressed a wall with images, taken a from a consumer perspective, of all main D/OOH inventory so they became familiar with sites and how they are consumed. We had monthly briefings, sharing information on new D/OOH capabilities, along with the how, why, when & should, they could be integrated into campaigns.

We introduced creative teams to technologists, developers and media owners so conversation and ideas flowed easily, and not lost in the search of who to speak to if we weren’t on hand.

As a result, we delivered 10 media first in 3.5 years for Samsung UK/Global. I’m not saying it always ran smoothly, but the intention was there to optimise creative assets even on the most straightforward of broadcast buys, through to the more exciting product launches and spectaculars that gained global recognition.

Universally, much of D/OOH creative work is developed and crafted on a desktop screen in a windowless office with no perception of where and how the final ad is going to be seen.  No concept of visual lead-in, angle of audience consumption, messaging relevance to the consumer, nor the environment, for example, a mall 6 sheet is consumed very differently to a 6 sheet on Bank Station’s platform, a bus shelter or a bus side drop T. Dwell time is different, orientation is different, mindset is different, elevation is different, yet the creative displayed is the very often exactly the same, and worst still it may be the same as that seen in the morning newspaper or monthly magazine.

Digital is our norm, but it still has its problems. We have seen some shocking and inappropriate advertising placements next to news reports online which are a result of programmatic buying, an automated/auction ad buying system. For example, diets products next to reports on the devastating day to day of those living with famine, although this is the extreme it is not uncommon.

DOOH cuts through all of these issues, with no fear of content issues. With the influx of DOOH deployment, advertising messaging can move as audiences move throughout the day, messaging relevance can engage at different times – on the commute, socialising, changing with the weather/traffic/location. GPS on transport can connect to digital screens placed around the city and/or on transport networks/bus shelters & so on. Tapping into a receptive mindset with contextual and relevant creative in the right environment has much deeper brand effectiveness and greater potential to purchase.

We know movement is engaging, full motion DOOH is 2.5 times* more impactful than its equivalent static site, delivering a powerful emotional experience with heightened brand impacts contributing to brand effectiveness. However, many global markets have clear guidelines as to what can appear where, with restrictions on video/movement on roadside to avoid driver distraction, therefore smart buying with contextualised creative should be baked into campaign scheduling.

Key to all of these is the flow of information, creative teams can’t challenge the norm unless they are made aware of channel capabilities, are involved from the start and are briefed alongside media. Media can’t plan and buy the best unless they understand if there are mandatory assets to be used, the creative direction and ambitions.

A very simple change to internal structure and process will optimise both creative strategy and media budgets. A win-win for all, especially the client.

For more information on Diversiffi Media’s workshops, Closing the gap on Media and Creative, please contact me at

*Brand Science;