Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Thinkbox Has a Future after Trading Is Tackled

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Thinkbox Has a Future after Trading Is Tackled

Article excerpt

As top meetings go, the coming together of representatives of the marketing community and many of those behind the launch of Thinkbox was a modest affair.

Around the table in trendy 'meejah' watering hole The Hospital, it was only a five-a-side match. Nonetheless, it was a remarkable occasion, not least because the meeting was taking place at all. Before long, further wonders began to unfold. The really incredible bit was that both sides appeared to be prepared to listen to one another for quite a lot of the time. At long last, the lion was lying down with the lamb.

Yet the primary hopes of senior marketers such as Oliver Cleaver of Kimberly-Clark and Jeremy Found of the COI could not, of course, be met. What they wanted most was a far more flexible trading market for TV advertising - something more akin to a commodity trading market - than deals that tie them up in knots over long periods.

There were too many relics from the past, they argued, surviving simply because that was the way things have always been. What was the role of station average price, for instance, in an era of instant computer communication? Here, however, the marketers ran into one of the most obvious limits to what Thinkbox, which represents all the main commercial broadcasters, can achieve.

It was almost as if a very dark force had entered the assembly at the very mention of the word 'trading', requiring Thinkbox board member Graham Duff to take out his cloves of garlic and his crucifix.

There can be no talk of trading issues here. A minor medium such as radio can get away with it, but the lawyers have clearly threatened Thinkbox to within an inch of its life. There can be absolutely no collusion between ITV, Channel 4, Five and BSkyB on such basic matters. So, although the Thinkbox team was able to listen to and, one hopes, digest, pleas for greater flexibility, not a word could be uttered, and eyebrows stayed horizontal.

Suggestions by Thinkbox that marketers should be more open about their needs so the telly people could help more met a decidedly frosty reception. For some reason, the marketers thought that if they were entirely open with the commercial broadcasters, they would end up getting screwed. How they reached such a conclusion is difficult to imagine. …

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