If there's one phrase that sums up the state of the global media buy, that may be the most accurate. Global media buys, once heralded as the wave of the future, are suffering some growing pains.
The lingering worldwide recession hasn't helped, but the biggest problem seems to be clients' reluctance to shift from the proven strategy of tailoring buys to individual markets despite the growth of cross-border marketing.
Still, major global media buyers and publishers say they have not given up. In an exclusive informal poll, Advertising Age International asked several dozen ad agency media directors, newspaper and magazine publishers, TV network sales executives and other experts, "Is the idea of a global media buy dying?"
Not a single respondent thought so. In fact, most emphatically denied the suggestion. One media director insists the strategy is feeling "a dose of reality which as usual follows hype."
The concept itself is still in its infancy, several maintain, and suffers such constraints as multinational cultural differences and ad budgets controlled by individual countries rather than regions.
But many maintain the global media buy is poised to take advantage of emerging opportunities in multinational buys, particularly in international TV networks. One ad director says that while expectations of the concept's success were unrealistically high at first, emerging world market leaders and alliances will ultimately generate dominant brands. The global media buy, far from dying, may be starting just now to seem relevant. Here, then, are answers to the question:
IS THE IDEA A GLOBAL MEDIA BUY DYING?
John Perriss,chairman, Zenith Media Worldwide, London:No, it's not dead, but it's growing out of the infancy stage. Global media buying is waiting for some encouragement from media owners. Three specifics:
1. There are not many global media products with real strength in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
2. Media owners are not structured to work cross-border.
3. Personal agendas obstruct corporate interest.
Until more media make interesting buys available clients will not alter their own structures to exploit the opportunities. Its time will come.
Murray Dudgeon, senior VP-European media director, McCann-Erikson Worldwide, London:No. Global media buying will undoubtedly enter a new and radically different phase over the next few years, and this in itself will be a reflection of how the communications business is changing at an inexorable speed. The global deal of the future will encompass a raft of different assets ranging from traditional advertising to multimedia assets and distribution. They will also increasingly become partnerships and alliances rather than the traditional buyer/seller relationship.
Frederick H. Wray, senior VP-media director, Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, Chicago: Maybe. The biggest impediment to global ad deals is lack of centralized control at the client. Most clients are de-centralized either by continent or by country, for that matter. As a result, no one person has the authority to combine budgets across countries-which is what is needed to make these deals happen.
Ron de Pear, executive media director, J. Walter Thompson Europe, London: No. It's not a matter of global media buys dying or not-it's a matter of whether they have relevance to the total communications needs of clients. To put together such deals is not easy. It takes time, effort, authority and access to a central budget. Very few genuine global deals exist, the reason being that very few media owners, agencies and clients are structured in a way that, once agreed, allows it to happen.
Ira Carlin, executive VP-worldwide media director, McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York:No. If anything, the concept and implementation of a global media buy is just now being born-mergers, acquisitions and multi-dimensional strategic alliances will ultimately create a new era of global media buys.
Brian Jacobs, senior VP-international media director, Leo Burnett International, London.No. Global media buys aren't dying but evolving into global negotiations as the number of suppliers genuinely able to deliver a one-stop buy stagnates. Media megatrends have extended the empires of those major players with multiple vehicles (Rupert Murdoch, Emilio Azcarraga, Ted Turner, Silvio Berlusconi). Advertisers are increasingly turning to their agencies for advice on cross-country negotiations using these vehicles.
Mike Drexler, president, BJK & E Media Group, New York: No. Global media per se is not a reality. Regional buys are being made on a multinational basis-many also involve more than one continent. Pan-regional buys are also being combined on a so-called global basis.
Allen Banks, director of media, Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York: No. I think it is safe to say that the idea of global media buying isn't dying. Indeed, in my opinion, I don't think it was ever truly born.
While there are some few instances where advertisers were able to put together media buys that went across continents, the opportunities in the past to do major multinational deals with media owners have been extremely limited. Increasingly, as publishers and TV owners develop their media opportunities in other markets, the opportunities are starting to grow.
The bigger problem has always been the decentralization of advertising budgets. While there are many global companies, their ad budgets tend to be controlled in individual countries, rather than in continents, making it difficult, or in many cases almost impossible, to accomplish a global buy. One last factor mitigating against global buying has been the fact that local opportunities have, generally, been more important in reaching consumers than have been the few global opportunities that have existed.
Michael D. Moore, executive VP/worldwide media director, D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York: No, it is not dying. The concept has simply felt the effects of a dose of reality which as usual follows hype. The facts are that there are relatively few media companies that can supply a truly global buy and relatively few companies that can effectively make use of such opportunities. However, more and more advertisers are becoming truly global and several media companies are gradually filling in their territorial and/or media delivery "blanks." So for now, global buys will be few and far between for very practical reasons-but the concept is not dead or dying.
Eric S. Scheck, international media supervisor, BBDO, New York: No. Until recently, global buys have been a concept before their time. In 1989, BBDO struck its first global deal with News Corp. on behalf of Gillette, and that was before Star TV and Fox Latin America. Pan-geographic TV was still in its infancy and, generally speaking, networks and clients lacked organizational commitment to centrally funded one-stop buys.
This has changed over the past five years, particularly the last two, as networks continue to grow and evolve into more targeted vehicles-note the recent changes on Star (see story on P. I-16)-and clients and agencies have come to understand the advantages and value of pan-geographic TV, where appropriate.
Gerd Hinske, VP-publisher, Business Week International, Lausanne, Switzerland: Maybe. There is an obvious trend of reconciliation in media buys. More buying decisions have moved over the last years into the two major regions, Europe and Asia, not as much into Latin America.
As far as Europe is concerned, an additional decentralization can be recognized particularly in Eastern Europe, where Western agencies have been established, taking over central media buying from headquarters.
We also have to realize that some international magazines are promoting this movement by offering regional advertising for major European countries, sold and booked locally.
Global media buys will not be dead completely for a certain time, but the long-term trend works against it.
Gregory G. Coleman, VP-publisher, Reader's Digest, New York: No. I think this would be a great idea, seeing that there has been so much rhetoric on global ad deals and not much real action. It would be very informative to see what the global czars are actually doing to take advantage of global media buys.
James McLeod, advertising director, International Herald Tribune, Paris: No. The concept of a global media buy is alive and well. Consider the plethora of print and broadcast media which have entered this arena over the last few years. Clearly, this would not be happening unless there was a demand.
While a global media buy remains a cost-effective way to portray and sustain a company's brand image, and enables sellers to reach buyers, and buyers to reach sellers, the trend will continue.
Kay Delaney, executive VP, Turner International Advertising Sales, Turner Broadcasting Inc., New York: No. Print has always been "global" or pan-regional (i.e., Financial Times, The Economist, Wall Street Journal Europe, etc.). TV is taking on the structure of the print industry with the emergence of thematic channels such as CNNI, MTV, Eurosport; advertising will focus on the demographic (i.e., senior businesspersons through CNNI, children through Cartoon Network). TV will give a precision to marketers far more cost-effective than ever before. They will look for thematic programming that fits the profile of people they want to reach.
Harvey Ganot, executive VP-advertising & promotion sales, MTV Networks, New York: No. To make it effective you need to take the idea of the global network to the next level: It must be delivered through a brand that is recognized and accepted as part of the culture in diverse parts of the world. When you combine a trademark like MTV with a world-renowned product in an electrifying way, it can galvanize consumers like no other medium. To offer an advertiser's message simultaneously in English, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin and Hindi is a revolutionary opportunity for a savvy marketer who can overcome the politics of working with numerous different global media departments.
Tony Blin-Stoyle, worldwide advertisement director, Financial Times, London: No. It would be madness to claim that the global media buy was dying just after Ogilvy & Mather picked up $450 million of full-service global advertising from IBM. As trade barriers come down and technology eliminates product differentiation, brand values alone may dictate a company's success. If agencies can create global advertising without, in the words of Maurice Saatchi, "being so bland and jellylike that you have nothing real to say," global buying will thrive by offering consistent strategic focus and economies of scale. The future of the global media buy may be dependent on winning the global creative challenge.
Hart Hooton, senior account executiveNo. Although the trend toward the centralization of global media planning and buying is not speeding up, there are companies who have structured themselves to do it. The global media buy is still an embryonic process for both clients and magazines. There are only a few real global editorial franchises.
On the advertiser side, there are also only a few companies that have restructured their organization to actually handle centralized media operations. When more companies transfer authority out of local hands into central planning and buying groups, global publishers will find ways to accommodate their needs.
Michael Fox, director-international advertising sales, ESPN, New York: No. Although global media buying is in its infancy, we feel it is the future. As long as the media are set up to service clients the way the clients have set themselves up internationally, agencies and clients will discover the ease and cost efficiencies associated with global media buying.
If you can offer advertisers the opportunity to participate in major sporting events in major regions of the world or even events in major countries of the world, global media buying is as easy as buying time in the U.S.
Alex Clemente, senior director of advertising, USA Today International, New York: No. I don't believe global media is dying-rather, I believe it has not lived up to the unrealistic level of expectation marketers, advertisers and media have put upon it.
Coordinated by Todd Pruzan.