NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Charlie Crowe, CEO of C Squared, the producer of the Festival of Media, is putting the ad world on notice that the time has come for media agencies to get the proper recognition for their role in the marketing mix and the value they bring to clients. And those honors will be doled out at the Festival of Media Awards program, which will be held this year in Valencia, Spain.
Mr. Crowe recently spoke with Ad Age, a sponsor of the awards, about the festival and the awards and the growing significance of media owners.
Ad Age: Why add awards to the festival this year?
Mr. Crowe: There was a signal at last year's event when the global media director of P&G stood on the platform and said the words, "Charlie should launch an awards ceremony." The underlying reason, though, is that there are a lot of awards in the ad industry, and many are still predicated on creative treatment of the ad and its effectiveness. Those things are incredibly important, but there's a really important piece to advertising that's been neglected, at least on a global basis, and that's convergence -- and not just in the digital sense but in the sense that great advertising now is looking for partnerships. Brands are using media agencies to create services for consumers and looking at ways of engaging with consumers. We're noticing all these changes, and there was no awards ceremony that really provided the benchmark in who was doing well in this new environment.
Ad Age: So you're giving media agencies a chance to show their worth?
Mr. Crowe: The overall message is that media networks have emerged from the shadows of their creative parents, and they are incredibly important. They are established on a global basis and doing deals in unconventional ways while looking and investigating whole new business models.
Ad Age: Is the media-owners category intended to demonstrate that the power and creativity no longer resides only within the agencies?
Mr. Crowe: Totally. Media agencies are being threatened by media owners, who are also coming up with creative solutions for clients. And with the [economic] downturn, the strength and position of media owners is potentially a lot stronger. They arguably have more business models and sources of revenue than agencies. The big, global, important media owners do offer clients direct sources of opportunity, and that's a real challenge for media agencies: to make sure they are providing added value in that conversation.
Ad Age: Is innovation in the industry being led by the U.S., Europe or somewhere else?
Mr. Crowe: It's not being led by the States. Latin America could tell us a lot about innovation, creativity with traditional media and how to make the most out of public spaces. South Korea can tell us a lot about the mobile channel. If America is leading in anything, it's in the content-generation area and how brands can integrate into the content -- not just product placement but true integration.