Key Tools For Today's Media Executives: Risk and Failure

Media Mavens Awards Speakers Emphasize the New Realities

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NEW YORK ( -- Media executives these days have to choose between falling up or falling behind, a panel of pros said this

Coca-Cola North America VP of media, sports and entertainment marketing Bea Perez said the company has learned a lot from its mistakes.

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morning, arguing that taking risks and sometimes failing are now necessary if anyone is going to learn what works. The media business, panelists concurred, is changing too fast to wait for research to come back and promise that an idea will succeed.

"We're actually very comfortable now making mistakes," said Bea Perez, VP-media, sports and entertainment marketing, Coca-Cola North America. "Not everything has worked, but we learned a lot from it."

Emerging success stories
The panel, on "Emerging Success Stories," was one of two convened for today's Media Mavens Awards, presented each year by Advertising Age and sponsored this time around by AARP the Magazine. All the panelists were 2006 Media Mavens.

"The only risk I can see is to not test these things," added Sean Finnegan, U.S. director, OMD Digital. "You have to recalibrate your thinking."
Sean Finnegan
Sean Finnegan

The other session, titled "Updating Tradition," dealt with the steps established media, such as TV and print, need to take in the digital age.

Traditional-media panelists said that amid a cacophony of marketing messages, identifying the times when consumers should be left alone has gotten almost as important as identifying those moments of engagement when advertisers can add value to consumer passions.

Rules of disengagement
Marketers today always think about engagement and precision strikes, said Andy Jung, senior director-advertising and media, Kellogg North America. "We've also got to be cognizant of when they don't want to be engaged," he said.

Restraint can play the better part of strategy, too, when advertisers wildly demand "firsts" from their agencies, panelists said. "Every client we have wants to be first," said Craig Woerz, co-managing partner, Media Storm. "You need to ask them why they want to do it."
Craig Woerz
Craig Woerz

Success results most often when agencies can integrate a creative idea across traditional media and sometimes nontraditional platforms, Mr. Woerz said, citing the recent "Dear John" letters on billboards that turned out to be teasers for a Court TV series. "These are not the plan," he said. "These are parts of the plan that bring the greater plan to life."

Digital changes
Digital media, of course, is changing the way consumers use established media, according to Meridith Jamin, managing partner-director of consumer insights, Mediaedge:cia. Once the web became an easy place to compare prices, for example, the function of print circulars changed for some people.

Mediaedge:cia research found that most men now who read circulars about consumer electronics aren't doing it to scope out deals, but instead to get the lay of the land and keep up with the new products.
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