18 November 2009

How TV fits into IMC

My two previous posts about a successful TV commercial and the broad reach of Radio generated some commentary on LinkedIn and Twitter. Some of the chatter was skeptical: TV? Radio? Really?

Yes, really. That's why I posted. There seems to be an unhealthy skepticism toward broadcast media. To be sure their business models are in question. The ground is shifting underneath them just like it is for all of us. (Over the weekend there were a couple of more articles on this subject: The Wall Street Journal examined the Comcast-NBC Universal deal and the self-proclaimed Newspaper of Record pondered "An Unsteady Future for Broadcast".)

Even so, TV and Radio were never the best or only media an advertiser could use. They each have their own strengths: For example TV reaches large audiences very quickly, which is important if you're launching a new CPG product. That's powerful but an advertiser must close the sale at the shelf, so it's advisable to complement broadcast media with an FSI or a shopper marketing program.

With that, it's time to check in on our two IMC projects, one where we handled all media for a client, and another where we worked with multiple agencies.

You may recall that we were in the process of getting to a channel-neutral plan. We ultimately decided that TV was necessary to build awareness quickly, but in this case we built the TV plan around a strong retail plan that invites consumers to see and try the product. Likewise we used Radio to build awareness of retailer events ("shopper marketing" in some dictionaries). We can summarize the role of TV as less like a megaphone and more like the flute played by the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

We left off with this project also on the verge of a channel-neutral plan. In this case TV will played a more traditional awareness-building role, but the magic of working together with all of our client's agencies is that we had good peripheral vision on what everyone else recommended and did. It's only a small part of the deal that our messages were consistent across all media. The real benefit is that each medium played off the others in real time, like on a basketball court. TV, then, was planned in conjunction with all other activity.

What's the right role for broadcast?

My point is that TV and Radio should never be the default position for a marketer; nor should they be eschewed. The right role for all media -- broadcast, retail, digital, social -- should derive from insightful consumer and business analysis. Then, figure out how they all work best together.

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