Friday 21 June 2019

Ad lib: Media expert Ritson predicts brighter future for television


Switched on: marketing and media commentator Mark Ritson, told an industry lunch in the Aviva Stadium that real value is still in long-term campaigns
Switched on: marketing and media commentator Mark Ritson, told an industry lunch in the Aviva Stadium that real value is still in long-term campaigns

Michael Cullen

The struggle to control the future of television is a major two-way contest between worldwide TV companies and the digital giants, and it's anyone's guess as to who will win the war. That's according to world-renowned marketing and media commentator Mark Ritson, who was speaking at a Television Audience Measurement (TAM) industry lunch in the Aviva Stadium.

Ritson said in California "the digital boys" are trying to take the TV market. But established companies have had 60 years producing TV shows and they're damn good at it. Tech giants like Amazon are adept at what they do. He said Google and Facebook don't fight with each other because in their quest to be the digital duopoly they hijacked ad spend.

Between the two of them, they created the new narrative, where media was no longer a one-way street. The new message was all about consumers seeking dialogue through online interactions. Traditional media got hammered. "We all fell for it," Ritson said. Today's reality is that we have more of everything - more ads, targeting and clutter.

Press was worst hit by the twin impact of the economic crash and mass migration to digital. Newspapers groups moved from a reliance on ads to subscriptions. But Ritson believes the worst is over. Digital is everywhere, it's all-pervasive. JCDecaux is trying to develop programmatic for out-of-home campaigns.

During a feisty talk, often punctuated by colourful language, he denounced claims that TV was dead as bunkum. Those who suggest that millennials don't watch TV should acknowledge that people get older, settle down and have families of their own -and they all love to switch on TV.

Ritson insists that while activations provide brand owners with short-term savings, the real value is in long-term campaigns - placing him firmly in the Peter Field and Les Binet ad effectiveness camp. "It's hard to get emotional about search," he quipped with some irony.

The Melbourne Business School adjunct professor of marketing, who grew up near Carlisle in Cumbria, believes marketers must be properly trained. "You can't do marketing unless you've done marketing," he said in relation to the need for brand owners to be armed with appropriate third-level qualifications.

Ritson questioned YouTube's use of content. They're more than happy to take ads but then they go missing when things turn bad. He compared it to a restaurateur who denies all responsibility when someone complains about the food served up, blaming the kitchen staff over whom he says he has no control.


Grant Thornton has launched a recruitment drive in a bid to find 150 graduates for next year's intake. Called 'Less That. More This!', the campaign tries to dispel the old stereotypes about a career in accountancy. Created by Atomic, working to Grant Thornton's marketing and business development director, Ciara Bourke, the campaign includes a video airing on social media channels and YouTube until the end of October. The campaign coincides with the traditional 'milk-round' and the career and graduate fairs. 


Seat has new print ads for its Ateca SUV where the message changes from day to day.

Created by OwensDDB and PHD, the focus is on a car for everyday life with the endline 'You'll see, there's no such thing as ordinary'. The first spot in the seven episodes, which also includes TV and digital, started on Monday. The campaign is due to run until mid-November.


VHI has invited three agencies to pitch for its media buying. The list comprises Spark Foundry, Wolfgang Digital and the incumbent agency, PHD. Wolfgang's inclusion has prompted some head-scratching in adland given that Wolfgang is seen primarily as a creative shop for search, social and content. But given that Ireland's healthcare providers need to recruit millennials, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.


And finally ... coffee brand Java Republic has signed up The Helix at DCU. David McKernan's company has 1,200 venues across Ireland serving around 100,000 cups of its hand-roasted coffee daily. With Java already available on Aer Lingus and British Airways flights, things are looking up.


Michael Cullen is editor of;

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