I recently talked with Jason DeLuca, Managing Director at Allscope Media, an independent mid-size ad agency that delivers fully integrated communication strategies, about the important relationship between creative and media buying. How do creative choices affect media buying decisions and conversely, how do media buying decision influence the creative process? We sat down for a quick Q&A.
From the big idea to campaign integration, to media strategy, it’s all about developing the best creative concepts and making the best media choices to reach the right audiences with the right messages and calls to action. So, does amazing creative succeed without the right media strategy? Can great media save bad creative? Or working together, can they make any product or service successful?
David Murdico: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Jason DeLuca: I always thought that the chicken came first, but after much contemplation I came to the same conclusion as Aristotle once did, that both the chicken and the egg have always existed together at the same time in harmony; much like the relationship between creative and media.
DM: What’s your background and what brought you to Allscope Media?
JD: I’ve spent the last 15+ years working closely with some of the worlds most iconic brands, helping them manage every aspect of their online media research, strategy, planning, buying, content integration, targeting, tracking, reporting, analysis, optimization and reconciliation needs.
What brought me to Allscope was the opportunity to marry my digital media expertise with a successful group of traditional media professionals to create a truly integrated media services offering. Since traditional media accounts for such a big majority of all marketing dollars spent, it’s critical that we, the digital media mavericks, find creative ways of integrating with traditional media touch points.
Additionally, I was attracted to Allscope because they are a nimble independent shop made up of only senior level experts. I was impressed with their strong experience in utilizing data and analytics to drive effective media strategies. I also saw the tremendous value they provide to their clients that is way beyond the norm, something they refer to as Positive Value Exchange. Last, I saw work that was being done efficiently without all the slow moving over worked inexperienced junior filled teams that I so often see with most agencies these days.
DM: Who are some of your more notable clients, and what’s your most memorable campaign?
JD: Over the years Allscope has worked with dozens of clients from a wide range of industries including: National Geographic Channel, Timberland, BlueCross & BlueShield, The Travel Channel, SmashBurger, Atari, Clarks, The Tennis Channel, Toshiba and Harper Collins.
A few memorable campaigns that stand out for me that were exceptionally fun and thrilling include winning the Atari business and working closely on a brand that was such a big part of my childhood. Additionally, having the chance to work on The Travel Channel’s ‘Man v Food’ show was a great thrill as it was a program that I was already a loyal fan of prior to working on, so it made it that much more rewarding to help drive TV ratings. I felt part of the family from the start so it felt very personal.
DM: Do most of your media buys start with the media buying strategy or the creative concepts?
JD: We start with both congruently, dividing responsibilities into each area then coming together to share and refine the best combinations. It’s very counterproductive to work in silos or to have one discipline dictating the other. Therefore, we always strive to intertwine both disciplines until they become as one. Like the chicken and the egg, buying strategy and creative concepts work best when they are conceived of together at the same time.
DM: Can the right creative and media buying approach save any campaign, no matter how bad the product is? In other words, is the right combo putting lipstick on a pig?
JD: Good question. It’s not always black and white. On one hand the right combo can put lipstick, a cowboy hat and disco roller skates on a pig with ease, but all that swine entertainment can quickly hit a mud patch if a product fails on its core promises. Then again, there are many examples of great creative and strategy shining a light on not so good products that end up being successful, at least in the short term. Those products typically require a high level of media reach and frequency commitment to stay relevant. Most consumers assume that if they see an ad for something “everywhere” how bad could it be? In fact, most think that the products/services advertised, “must be doing well if they can afford all those ads!” In the end there must be a balance between the right marketing flash and the product promise to maintain sustainability in the marketplace.
DM: If you were “king of all brands” and could change the way things are done in your industry, how would you do things differently?
JD: If I were the “King of All Brands” I would…
A) Create more accountability in media. I’d start by redefining all digital media impressions as only those that can actually be seen. Millions of dollars worth of media are spent and wasted each day on ads that cannot even be seen. Remember when John Wanamaker, the father of modern advertising, said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.“? Well guess what, we now know which half. It’s the half consumer can’t even see. Brands must rise up and demand accountability or they will continue to be taken advantage of by Publishers.
B) Stop squeezing the life out of agencies and start by paying them more money and investing in longer relationships. This would enable agencies to afford to hire the best people, invest in the best technologies and provide a level of loyalty that was once commonplace. These types of investments would keep my agency team happy and allow my brand to shine.
C) Stop placing media into black hole silos and begin to bring everyone to the same table to think on how to effectively integrate all media options together as one organism. Although this is talked about ad nauseam by agencies, it is rarely done effectively and often the TV media tail wages the dog.
D) Bypass traditional content partners and create a custom content creation juggernaut that entertains and inspires, much like what Red Bull has done.
E) Listen very carefully and attentively to my brand ambassadors and social media network for insights, then act diligently to make changes to address their concerns and needs. We would create an open dialogue, give public recognition where due and express gratitude to our customers.
DM: As a media professional, what do you think is the best-executed product launch in recent memory? What made it so successful?
JD: In recent memory, I would say Apple & Red Bull continue to impress me most in how simple yet powerful their ads excite the senses and imagination.
I also admire the selection of media they invest in to surround their target audience with ads while supporting their related passions. I look forward to seeing their ads and branded content evolve even further in the future.