Daily Archives: 15 May, 2009

Jack of all Trades

Going back a few weeks, I wrote about “who owns social media?” The answer to that particular piece being that social media cannot operate in isolation and to be successful, multiple different skills need to be blended together. To add some more fuel to the fire and to broaden this a little, we’ve been discussing internally the merits of a specialist digital media agency versus a full service one.

Paid Search became the domain of the specialist agency when a flourish of agencies were set up focusing all of their resources on that particular field, developing expertise as a genuine point of difference while increases in technology took away some of the man-hours to increase efficiency. Media Planning & Buying has existed in its own right in the traditional sense and that has followed in digital with large agencies dominating on the pretence that they can achieve greater buying economies of scale with an increase level of spend.

The disadvantage with specialist agencies comes from the nature of a ‘specialist’ – someone who is devoted to a particular occupation. They can be very single-minded due to the expertise and experience that they have in that particular field, however this can lead to them having a narrow and restricted view on advertising and indeed marketing in general. To that end specialist agencies are beginning to broaden their services, such as The Search Works merging with TradeDoubler to offer a more holistic approach. It’s also been said a million times before that people consume media differently now than they have in the past therefore surely their behavior requires an approach from the people who connect brands with consumers which mirrors this?

Naturally I’m inclined to believe that a full-service environment, with all disciplines together under the same roof with central co-ordination of these disciplines, is the way forward. This way, full-service agencies can provide independent, agnostic advice on aspects such as the budget allocation between the different disciplines, or advise on the impact that Display actually had on persuading one of their customers to convert online through a different channel.

Moving away from media in isolation, we’re seeing digital creative agencies such as AKQA launching their own media divisions to combat the need for digital expertise in all areas under one roof, i.e. Media and Creative. As the IPA’s newly inaugurated president, Rory Sutherland recently addressed the challenge of having media planners who do not have experience in dealing with creatives, highlighting the need for a more rounded approach:

“It terrifies me that almost nobody under the age of 35 in a media agency has any experience of working with creative people and vice versa; hence fewer and fewer people understand … the whole equation of business”

Coming from LBi it would be easy to accuse me of blowing my own trumpet but that would be missing the point. Ultimately co-operation is what is important – we are all better if we are working together.  If a business is able to get a group of specialist agencies working together towards a common goal then that is fantastic, but in practice this rarely happens and it is most achievable within a full service environment, with each party fighting for their share of the budget.

Blogs let in the underwear brands in Saudi Arabia


Think you have a marketing challenge?  Consider then the task of marketing lingerie in Saudi Arabia.  Not only is it strictest state in the Middle East when it comes to ‘morality’ laws, you have the odd situation of only men being allowed to sell underwear to women – something that has prompted a boycott campaign.

As reported in the latest edition of Middle East marketing trade magazine Communicate, the solution for brands has been to publish their ads online and have them forwarded virally.   

For example, one creative put forward last year by Ogilvy on behalf of Danish lingerie and swimwear brand Change
poked fun at the censorship laws in the region, which results in
Western magazines arriving with black felt tip marks over images
considered too revealing.

Using taglines such as ‘censor anything but the bikini’ and ‘edit
anything but the bra’, the whole body of a model was covered up with
marker pens except the hands and face.

The campaign was deemed too close to the bone to run as an above the
line campaign, but it did appear as in-store POS material, and went

According to Mazen Hassan, creative director of Ogilvy Jeddah, “We submitted it to several local and international blogs,
and it was a huge success. Ladies used to e-mail me telling me they
really liked it and that they thought it was really smart, because it
bends the rules in an acceptable way.”

Essentially the digital arena is one of the few areas where women can get up close to brands with relative freedom.

According to Milos Illic of TBWA / Raad Dubai, which also covers the
Saudi market and handles rival lingerie brand Nayomi, digital is a “fantastic
opportunity…customers could interact with the brand, immerse
themselves in it. They could do wonders in Saudi with digital.”

Working in the Saudi market as a marketing creative is obviously
challenging especially if you come from a Western ‘anything goes’
environment, but I imagine it’s one that forces you to think harder of
ways to get around the various barriers, with online being key to that.

As the Communicate article says: “With
the Internet allowing for more creative freedom, digital could prove a
highly effective bypass route for the Saudi advertising market”
, and slowly push the boundaries.