Generation Media a hit

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While creatives were toasting each other's intoxicating genius at the Cannes International Advertising Festival in June, a troika of U.S. media agencies -- Starcom MediaVest, Carat USA and Initiative Media -- toiled around the clock to prepare for the largest advertising review in history, the $2.6 billion General Motors Corp. consolidated media planning account, which will be decided this fall.

The GM review, along with other media consolidations, are mounting evidence of a creative revolution fought by Generation Media. Generation Media is comprised of creative thinkers seeking progressive solutions to new buying and planning challenges


Jamie Korsen, 35, the founder and president of Drive to Site Media, a division of True North's KSL Media, is a member of Generation Media. He talks a patois of brand-building and science. He is sometimes hard to follow, but always compelling. His company is a media planning service for Internet clients such as,

"It's one of the first pieces of technology [to] enable up to 10 million simultaneous users to play an online trivia game," says Mr. Korsen.

DtSM and creative shop Holland Mark Edmund Ingalls, Boston, were commissioned to draw players to the game, which began in May. He says DtSM spent about $15 million in three weeks for Goldpocket. The buy was a combination of radio, cable, network and syndicated TV, print and the Internet. The first TV commercial aired, appropriately enough during "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." DtSM also hired people in selected markets to dress in gorilla suits and carry digitized flat TVs playing commercials.

According to Mr. Korsen, the campaign generated more than 5 million hits in 24 hours.

"This live [trivia game] event was a direct competitor to television," says Mr. Korsen, "It's a competitor to lifestyles because of the difference in time zone. The event at 7 p.m. Eastern time was competing with lifestyle orientations on the West Coast, and everything" in between.


Another member of Generation Media, Jarrod Moses sees advertising's future in Hollywood. Mr. Moses is president-CEO of New York-based Alliance, a partner company of Grey Global Group.

"We are helping merge content and advertising," says Mr. Moses. His company specializes in product placement and promotion deals with film studios and talent agencies.

"Alliance receives about 50 scripts a month," says Mr. Moses, who divides his time between offices in New York and Los Angeles. He speaks to talent agents daily and his office receives about 50 scripts a month.

"We work directly with studios developing scripts and other properties, looking for cross-marketing opportunities. Sometimes I even write scripts myself in order to work with a brand equity," he says.

Although Alliance works on the cutting edge of merging content and advertising, Mr. Moses is quick to add, "We make sure that we don't cross the line. Consumers will make the distinction. If they are paying $10 for a movie and they get added value out of it, they will invite us back in. But if consumers say, `No, we don't want to see these products in a film or associated with a star, than we have to step back.' "


Elizabeth Brunt, 34, is a soft-spoken planner at Carat USA, New York, a traditional media agency. She works closely with media buyers and is a specialist who introduces her client, Pfizer, to such media options as streaming video, AOLTV, TiVo and ReplayTV.

At any other advertising agency Ms. Brunt's title would be associate media director. But she does not work at any other ad agency. She works at a media-only company that bills more than $10 billion in business worldwide. "Our role is broader because we're a media-only company," says Ms. Brunt. "While we are handling all the media for the brand, we're also operating in an account management role, dealing with the creative agencies. We play a dual role as an account/media person."

Ms. Brunt likes her direct contact with the client. Most agencies allow their media departments to work clients mainly through account and creative teams. "We're able to look at new media and present it. The clients are really encouraging creativity. They're looking for more value in their media," says Ms. Brunt, notingshe can shop the world of new media for her clients before a creative approach has been established.

"We don't have to know that there is a creative available," says Ms. Brunt. "We can say we knew to look at this new media [and] we need to test this. We need to see if this might work for any of our clients and build a new partnership with TiVo and build a partnership with these companies."

Ms. Brunt says that after testing the new media options, she approaches the client's creative agency and says, "We need to work together to make this happen."

So far, according to Ms. Brunt, the creative shops have been solid partners in this process.


Last month, Matt Leible, 30, joined New York-based Horizon Media's Out-of-Home unit as its new director.. He came to Horizon with a well-rounded outdoor background, thriving on the thrill and adventure of working the great outdoors.

Indeed, he was reluctant to discuss the specifics of one job, a space that is not designated for advertising.

"It's at the cage, the street basketball court on West 4th Street," Mr. Leible admitted. "That wall is so target-specific to the crowds watching the street ball players. We got [the client's advertising] wall up after a lot of hard work."

If Mr. Leible had his way, just about any available piece of real estate in this country would be sporting brand messages.

"The future of outdoor is unlimited," he says. "As long as you can dream it, it will happen." One client asked him if he could drape the George Washington Bridge with advertising. "They're doing construction on it now," says Mr. Leible, "so maybe that could be done."

His dream? "Well, we might be able to wrap the moon someday. And I'd like to be the one who does it."


Patricia Calderon, 40, senior-VP managing director at Stein, Rogan & Partners, Chicago, is one of the pioneers of interactive media placement. She joined Stein five years ago to run the media department. Her job quickly evolved into being responsible for starting the agency's interactive division.

"It was before there really was an online advertising marketplace," says Ms. Calderon. "We kind of made it all up as we went along. We figured out banner buys before banner buys were formatted and structured. We figured out how to advertise online and offline, and online brands offline. The whole mix." Her changing job description from head of media to interactive director is a reflection of the fact that new media is breaking down barriers between the traditional job categories at agencies, and also breaking down the distinctions between what is considered branding and what is strategy.

"I still naturally cross over the line," says Ms. Calderon. "Media is integral to brand planning. I work with all of our clients and our media department to develop some of our overall online strategies for each of the brands. And then I work with the planners, buyers and optimizers to get these plans implemented in the market place. For online media to work, you have to know what your goals are. You have to know what your strategy is. That's where you get the opportunity to do creative things."


Mathilde "Max" Benington, 36, is a prime example of the progressive media person who still works within what increasingly appears to some as being a traditional arrangement: the media unit within a creative agency.

Deutsch's media department has about 80 employees, according to Ms. Benington. The agency handles the media buying and planning for Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, which is a consolidated account at the agency. They also service BankOne, Snapple and Brinks Home Security, among others. Ms. Benington's department focuses on targeted media solutions, mostly in interactive media placement and direct.

"And we are finding ways to use mass media in a more focused way," she says. "It's not about tonnage anymore; it's about what is effective. Clients want to know where their dollars are going and how are they paying out, and we are finding ways to measure that and predict it."

Ms. Benington does not call the bundling of creative and media at Deutsch a traditional relationship.

"We are integrated," she says. "I really don't think media or any other discipline can live in a vacuum. For our clients, it's all about business solutions that can come from anywhere. If the media lives apart from the creative, account planning, direct response or interactive, then it's not part of the overall integrated solution. Media specialists are more about efficiencies and clout in buying, but we are more about smart solutions for the client. Business solutions, not media solutions. That's what I mean."


Tim Hanlon, 34, is the director of emerging contacts at Starcom IP, a division of Starcom Mediavest Worldwide. Although his title sounds extraterrestrial, Starcom's new media wonk is based prosaically enough, not in outer space but in Chicago. Mr. Hanlon's job is to investigate all the latest media gizmos, or "contacts," with an emphasis on interactive and enhanced TV, personal video recorders and wireless handheld communications, and make them work for Starcom clients. He also is responsible for negotiating partnerships between the agency, new media businesses and broadcasters.

"If we're not leading the charge, we're at least up there near the top in terms of being progressive about getting clients educated, interested, worried about the emerging media," says Mr. Hanlon, who works with Allstate Insurance Co., Hallmark Cards, Walt Disney World, Kellogg Co., Pillsbury Co., Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and Miller Brewing Co. "These companies are being heavily sold into participating in the trials and tests and getting their feet wet with these new technologies, incorporating them into their media planning and their buys."

Mr. Hanlon also creates partnerships with technology companies and establishes relationships with leading content providers and distributors such as TV networks.

"The emerging contacts' contact point is a pivot point between these two groups," says Mr. Hanlon. "Bringing clients to these technology companies directly as well as leveraging our strong media relationships with broadcast and cable networks, who also test the very same platforms."

Mr. Hanlon believes that media agencies are the best conduit for hooking clients up with emerging technologies.

"Better than an ad agency," says Mr. Hanlon. "Better than a pure play interactive ad agency. Perhaps even better than a client's own efforts. We have the strong relationships on the content and distribution side as well as with the technology companies who want to showcase their platforms with major advertisers. It's a great position to be in because we can help make the promise a reality.

"A lot of clients are excited and yet confused and worried about what all these new things mean," says Mr. Hanlon, who has been presenting new media options to Walt Disney World, which has signed up for testing two enhanced TV technologies and two PVR services.

Meanwhile, Allstate has become a charter advertiser with enhanced TV service RespondTV, and Starcom IP is creating enhanced TV commercials for Allstate through the RespondTV system. Allstate is also testing PVRs. Nintendo and the Discover Card are testing wireless systems.

"We are taking the plethora of technological solutions out there and we are trying to translate them into meaningful scenarios for our clients' brands," he says. "It's a wide open game right now. It takes a little bit of courage on the agency side and the client side to admit that this is where everything is going, that technologies will fundamentally change the landscape as we know it."