Monday, September 22, 2008

"Honey, I Screwed The Brand!"

Your Brand Is Not A Commodity So Don't Act Like One In Media Buying

By David Miranda

Disclaimer: The author has no financial interest or affiliation with any of the media properties in this article.

I have a good friend who prides himself in getting anything and everything on the cheap. I met him the other day for lunch. He was quick to tell me that his new haircut cost him only $9; his new suit cost him only $99; and his new cell phone service cost him only $15/month. So as I sat there in the cheap restaurant he proudly recommended looking at his bad haircut wearing his ill-fitting suit trying unsuccessfully to make an out-going call on his new cell phone, it gave me time to think. My friend, by the way, plans and buys media for a "bottom feeder".

There are media people (and companies) out there that pride themselves on getting you "something on the cheap". It's called "bottom feeding" by selling "remnant" inventory. These people (and firms) have little or no vested interest other than selling you anything and have little interest in your brand's best interest. Bean counters love this kind of media buy. They can tout their buying savvy and negotiating skills.

Let's put this into a different perspective.

Let's say you are looking for a surgeon, an auto mechanic, an architect, an electrician or a babysitter for your kids. Would you seek the cheapest provider to operate on you, fix your car, build your house, wire your home, or watch the kids? Chances are, not likely.

Now, let's be clear. Is it good business to get the best value for your dollar? Of course, but it is more likely you will get the best value for the dollar (and your brand) by dealing with media brands that empathize with your marketing objectives rather than just trying to sell you something.

Such is the case with iconic media brands. Time, for example, is such a brand. It understands and communicates integrity, trust, and credibility in the marketplace. An advertser is well served in aligning itself with the Time brand benefitting from the halo effect that Time provides. Is it cheap? No. Does a brand advertising in Time (or benefit from the relationship? Yes. Is there a strong price/value return on investment? Yes. The advertisers in Time media properties benefit directly from its iconic brand equity. Time has a long history of working with advertisers and, therefore, understands the implied covenant to its brand advertisers. Advertisers in Time media properties understand that it is a respected media environment.

Although I have used Time in this example, the same case can be made for other media icons such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, National Geographic, Financial Times, etc. Advertising in iconic media properties is not cheap, but it is valuable in building and promoting a brand.

Bottom feeders that sell on the cheap have little empathy for the advertisers they sell to. It is only regarded as a transaction.

In a world of uber-media diversity (with new entrants, literally, coming on the scene every day), I beg you to think about your brand and the "company" it keeps.

My suggestions?

  • work with iconic brands directly. They are professionals and know what the're doing.

  • avoid the cheap. Go with the best price/value in planning and buying media.
  • appreciate the difference between buying "quality" impressions versus "gross" impressions.
In summary, don't let your brand get a "bad haircut" in media buying.