Monday, May 14, 2007

A Creative Upfront Anyone?

With this week being the week of the upfront, the networks will all be claiming that their programming offers better commercial engagement than the other guys. It will be interesting to see how the networks try to sell something - engagement - that they really have no control over.

The only ones truly in control of engagement these days are the viewers. When the commercial they started watching in a time-shifted program stops being engaging, they can fast-forward through the commercial.

But when they do so, who's responsible? The networks? Or, the agency that created the commercial?

Arguably, it's the latter. What's surprising is that agencies haven't come forward to claim such.

As length of commercial view can now be measured second-by-second on digital platforms, you would think that agencies that pride themselves on doing engaging work would be the first to say, "We're responsible for engagement, not the programmer".

Imagine a creative upfront with different agency heads standing up in front of the gathered advertisers saying something like, "And as the second-by-second data shows, on average, viewers watch 80% of the commercials that we create."

Obviously, this would be much more attractive than the agency that can only claim a 20% time spent rate with the commercials they create.

Which agencies would win out?

Tough to say. But those that are good at telling stories would no doubt do better than those that aren't.

Not that there won't be stories told at this week's upfront. We'll hear plenty about how this network is better at engagement than that one.

But they'll all be fairy tales, to be sure. Networks are about as responsible for engagement as creative agencies are for impressions. Any true engagement upfront will have to be led by the likes of Crispin, Goodby and Wieden.

Not NBC, ABC and CBS.

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