Archive for July, 2010

What is the Future of Work?

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

MediaCom Career’s conference earlier this month took this as its key topic.. not a small one obviously.

The speakers throughout the afternoon ranged from the futuristic (Rhys from MediaCom is still buzzing from the CES in Vegas earlier this year and sees the world in 3d) to the philosophical (Alain de Botton took a sweeping look at the development of our attitudes to work based on his latest book “The pleasures and sorrows of work”

MediaCom Career’s managing director Aki Mandhar highlighted the biggest issue that I think faces employers these days. Living as we do in the Age of Dialogue we’re all faced with the very real fact that our brand is not our own anyway – but truly belongs to our customers. But not just to our customers but also to our employees. Marketing directors can try and deliver as complete a brand experience as they like, but as well as the very easy access consumers now have to customer reviews and twitter feeds about the brand, they can also easily access how employees inside the company really feel about it.

The website gives a free insight into 84,000 companies with anonymous comments from employees about interviews, salaries and working conditions. And yes MediaCom Worldwide is on there and our global CEO Steve gets 100% approval. But looking through the comments and scores generally it is very hard obviously to get a brilliant review overall. Especially in the current economic climate. Even Google who have an excellent corporate reputation only manage 3.9 out of 5.

This would not be everyone’s first port of call when looking at a brand’s reputation, but just as few of us go anywhere on holiday now without checking out or similar sites, we can expect sites that report back on how employees feel – including of course those with an axe to grind – to increase in their importance for all levels of staff.

Your employees are your brand more than ever before. Not just, as in the past, in the sense that your customer’s experience you through them. But in the sense that your potential future employees will check with your current and past employees on what it is like to work for you. For your brand to have a future, this had better be a proper reflection of your marketing.

Fatigue of the familiar – or you can just flog a dead horse so much

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010




Fatigue of the familiar – or you can just flog a dead horse so much

There was a recent cartoon in Private Eye that in the first panel said “Big Brother is watching you” and in the second panel said “You is not watching Big Brother ” (sic). Actually Big Brother’s audience is up so far year on year but it is certainly a franchise that seems to have had its time. I overheard one teenager saying to another recently – “why would I stay in and watch people sitting and doing nothing when I can go out and do something myself?” . What a good question – how come we’ve never asked ourselves that before?.

At a recent presentation of his new film Despicable Me (in cinemas this autumn people and not to be missed (<>) Chris Meledandri suggested that sequels and repeats were pretty much a golden goose at the end of their life cycle. He referred to a new trend he’d observed amongst the young as “Fatigue of the Familiar”. The successful producer of the Ice Age franchise and also Alvin and the Chipmunks has now got a number of new new projects in production. Personally I can’t wait, especially if they’re in 3D!

However there is a more serious point underlying the drive for newness which, if it is real, would undo much of what we currently understand about entertaining the young. Traditionally there is a strong streak of comfort in repetition. Story telling usually picks up on a dozen or so themes. Franchises are built in entertainment on the business of making as much as possible out of continuity. The mass market likes the fact the Coronation Street and Eastenders keep going strong year after year.

But maybe newness is more important than it used to be. The unlimited access that the world has now to every kind of entertainment that there is via the internet, may mean that new stuff is more important than ever.

The Daily Mail tells us the Coronation Street cast is heading for a culling. Is the familiar over for the mass market too ? (spare Betty for goodness sake!) (<>).

I’ve heard teenagers talking about how Facebook’s got nothing new to give them too. If the new isn’t new enough – what is ?

Sue Unerman

Chief Strategy Officer


20 years – makes a planner think….

Monday, July 12th, 2010



20 years – makes a planner think….




I’ve worked for (essentially) the same company for 20 years this month. That’s when I started working with Steve Allan (now global CEO of MediaCom but new business director of TMB back then).

Of course the company I started out with in a grotty back street off Tottenham Court Road has changed a great deal since then – It’s a lot bigger for a start – although I’m pleased to say that many of the people who were there then are still here now.

But it’s not just MediaCom that has grown up and changed. So too, and massively so, has the media industry. 20 years ago it was a radical move to switch from the media department of a full service creative agency to go to a media independent. Friends of mine thought that I was effectively “leaving the industry” when I went to TMB. The very high profile media people of that day sat at full service agencies in the media departments of GGT, Lowe, WCRS or BBH.

One of the things about MediaCom – now the largest UK media agency – is that most of its growth was organic. New business pitch after new business pitch was won by a team that grew in size, experience and talent. And client after client started not just to appoint TMB and then MediaCom, but to choose other media independents as well. What was an exception two decades ago, gradually became the norm.

And the reason why clients moved from full-service to begin with lay in the fact that media agencies that had separate contracts with clients could offer truly media independent advice. And then to offer return on investment advice to show in a truly media neutral way what worked and what didn’t.

Those reasons for the revolution in the industry are also the reasons why this is still such an interesting and exciting job. Communications neutral advice now encompasses much more than just TV, Print, Radio, Cinema and Outdoor. Now planners are thinking through whether there is even a role for brand advertising, or whether ppc seo and branded content will do the job better.

It’s been an exciting couple of decades. But Moore’s law applies to the pace of change in our industry too. New developments continue to happen faster than ever. And – brilliantly – the consumer continues to cope with them, and to adopt some and reject others in a way that most pundits are unable to predict. The revolution is not nearly over yet.