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Issue Date: May 2004

Reaching through the communications clutter

May 2004
Louise Marsland

The biggest challenge to marketers today is mobile technology, as the consumer can access anything from anywhere at anytime, said Alexander Schmidt-Vogel, CEO Worldwide, MediaCom, one of the international speakers at the annual Financial Mail Adfocus conference in Sandton 11-12 May, 2004.

Speakers highlighted the need for marketers to push the boundaries, be different, innovative and take risks to break through the clutter of all the advertising options and media out there bombarding the ordinary consumer.
The key trend in advertising is about defying convention - about 'going beyond'. This was the view of Mike Schalit of one of SA's premier advertising agencies, Net#work BBDO.
Commented Schmidt-Vogel: "In the old days, the medium was King. In the new world of digital freedom and personalised content, the consumer is in control and content is King." He says marketers and advertisers should therefore be thinking about content planning as well, not just media planning.
"Consumers are locking out advertising. And we need to return to school to find out how to make ourselves welcome again," Schmidt-Vogel pointed out. "Access to attention is a shrinking resource. Access to attention and access to relationships is on decline. We have to relearn how to become welcome as a messenger. Access to consumers will have an increasing value, but a shrinking resource. And the bad thing is that communication will become much more expensive, but it will allow us to be more effective. And we will have to sell twice: first the message and then the product/service."
And sometimes you have to shock people into action, explained Schalit, to get in under their radar. Brands that have been brilliant at it in SA, are Virgin and Absolut Vodka, for example.
Schalit said people always had their noses in something, phones, computers, other people's business... "People forget to look up occasionally - that is where inspiration comes from." He cited the example of Cell C's creative use of the solar eclipse a few years back to introduce its 'C' brand.
Schmidt-Vogel said marketers need a deeper understanding of what is inside your consumer:
1. We have to look at utilising break-through advertising that is unconventional, connects with the program, is inside the programme, creates your own programme - anything but advertising that is disturbing or boring.
2. Create branded content around the product, branded lifestyle, add brand competence, activities/lifestyle. The brand has to become a daily ritual in your consumers' life. Build its own world around the brand and let it shine.
3. Build real relationships - in the past we spoke to consumers where and when we wanted. Now it is on their terms.
"Going beyond gives you longtime campaigns," Schalit pointed out. "The worst thing we can do is be boring. Safety is out, excitement is in. Be wrong."
Most of the speeches at the conference are available at for reading only.
Louise Marsland is Editor of Marketing X.

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