There’s a quote that we often use at the end of one of our training modules, which
although made in the glitzy world of show-business is as apt in the world of
When the American comedian Bill Cosby said: “I don’t know the key to success, but
the key to failure is trying to please everybody,’ he was probably referring to the
demands that he faced being a major star in Hollywood.
For one reason or other Mr Cosby’s insight and advice appears to have been ignored
by the majority of TV companies that JWM have worked with over the last few
years, requiring us to introduce a degree of business autocracy into their companies
where previously democracy had run amok.
We find that when we work with broadcasters anywhere in the world to maximise
the effectiveness and efficiency of their own on-air marketing resource
(promotional GRPs), for one reason or other, sound business logic is often lost when
it comes to their use of promotional airtime; distinctly the opposite of when they
seek to communicate outside of their networks through advertising – why is this!?
The big difference is the failing of many to recognise that there is little difference
between money and value. While the advertising revenue return is analysed in
depth, and high level and often fractious negotiations take place between sales
departments, media agencies and advertisers , promotional airtime which reaches
the same audiences, has the same relative “market value’, and communication
levels, is used as if almost worthless. There seems to have been an endemic failure
by broadcasters to value their own inventory of promotional airtime; their GRPs,
that they have free of cost on their networks, and which when valued at commercial
advertising rates run to a value of tens, hundreds or thousands of millions Dollars,
Euros, Pounds or Rand per annum. It seems that when no cash is exchanged little
value is attributed.
The above situation has led to my Bill Cosby disquiet. Because of the lack of value
attached to it, promotional airtime tends to be used non-optimally within
broadcasters, with the basics of effective media planning ignored. Reach, effective
frequency and OTS are just a few of the measures utilised in the agency world but
which are often disregarded in on-air marketing. My earlier analogy of democracy
running amok within TV marketing departments, where every service, product,
programme, strand or genre ask for, and get a piece of the on-air marketing pie is
an outcome of this. In essence everything is supported, in reality nothing is, or at
least very little at effective communication levels dictated by those same media
planning rules I mentioned earlier.
So what should be done? We are of the opinion that broadcasters should act as their
advertising clients do; by allocating resources to fulfil the business needs of the
organisation. This needs to be done with a view to both the short, medium and
long-term success of the business. A short-term focus where daily viewing levels
drive decision making will fail to future proof the business against the demands of
demographic change, technical change, and increased international competition,
similarly ignoring the present will probably inhibit you in achieving the future that
you may aspire to.
Task led prioritisation, effective media communication weights, forward planning
and resource allocation is critical to success, whether those tasks are brand health,
viewing, demographic or new and changing distribution such as in South Africa and
Africa in general. Faced with such tasks the correct balance must be struck. This
process will inevitably lead to a scything of supported activity, but it will be the
correct route for the business, however difficult it may appear to be in the first
I’m sure Bill Cosby would endorse our view that “’Prioritisation is as much about
what you don’t do as it is about what you do do’’.