Persuading clients that they should make their own programmes as opposed to buying TV spots or investing in product placement has been a long hard struggle for both creative and media agencies.
There seem to have been two main problems: firstly the gestation period for any TV show is long and tortuous, particularly in the US and UK. Broadcasters are suspicious of anything with a ‘not invented here’ sign on it, although they do (grudgingly perhaps) take from independent producers, in the case of the UK because they are required by the regulators to do so.
And if the show comes from someone like the X-Factor’s Simon Cowell they do so anyway.
The second issue is the fear that the advertiser’s corporate message (and somehow or other there has to be one in there otherwise why do it?) will compromise the broadcaster’s integrity and annoy the viewers.
But some of least of the big media agencies are persevering, pointing to successful examples across the world for the likes of Unilever. Hewlett-Packard, for example, has made a cinema film in China via Saatchi & Saatchi.
WPP’s Mediacom is one of the most committed and it has just announced that it is to roll out its Mediacom Beyond Advertising company from the UK, Denmark, Sweden and Spain to France, Poland and the Netherlands with other Europe, Middle East and Africa countries to follow later this year.
MBA says its activities now include social media, mobile, search, events and sponsorship as well as content, which is probably wise given the difficulties outlined above.
But, to return to content, a media agency as Hollywood-style producer is an intriguing notion (they would say they’re not Hollywood-style producers at all).
It would certainly amuse Mediacom’s founding father Allan Rich whose UK media independent The Media Business was bought by Grey to be the foundation of Mediacom long before WPP bought Grey.
Allan was noted for wearing so much jewellery he rattled. He would have made a good Hollywood producer.