Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Why Buy Airtime When You Can Buy the Station?

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Why Buy Airtime When You Can Buy the Station?

Article excerpt

Sometimes the most interesting ideas come in the form of the most casual, throwaway lines over breakfast or lunch.

The senior advertising executive was munching happily through his haddock and two poached eggs in a restaurant snug when he suddenly dropped the idea that Wal-Mart, the world's biggest supermarket group, was seriously interested in becoming a media owner. And just to increase the effect, the executive added that Coca-Cola has similar ambitions.

The gossip may be untrue. On the other hand, it might be so obviously true and so well known to the rest of the word that it is positively embarrassing that a journalist is the last to find out.

After all, added the executive, Wal-Mart is the equivalent of the world's ninth-biggest economy, which is more than you can say for Sainsbury's or Marks & Spencer.

Whatever the actual status of the media plans of either Wal-Mart or Coca-Cola, it is possible to recognise a good idea when you hear it Retailers keep talking about getting closer to their customers, and the amount of attention and resources devoted to in-store media will undoubtedly grow.

The wonders of satellite transmission make it relatively easy to distribute in-store radio to persuade customers to linger. Will it really be long before the humble supermarket trolley is transformed into a personal communication centre, complete with its own video screen? The ads for special offers could pop up just as the shoppers are reaching out to buy.

The in-store stuff is all very well. But you still need the big messages and the serious brand-building efforts. So why shouldn't retailers or consumer goods manufacturers become media owners in their own right? It would be a classic case of cutting out the middleman. After all, the days when commercial television firms had some special broadcasting expertise or embedded social vision seem rapidly to be drawing to an end now the accountants have taken over.

The process might even throw up a buyer for ITV, which has unaccountably failed to attract a single serious suitor. It can't even look to Germany for a saviour. Haim Saban's ProSiebenSat.1 is back in profit, but has made it clear in the past few days that it is not looking for foreign adventures. …

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