Sending a monumental media message

Coca-Cola has invited Ogilvy—a creative shop—to pitch for its media business. And while few details have been released, the invitation itself is telling and important.

 Ad Age’s summation is spot on:

“Inviting a creative agency to pitch for even a piece of an account typically handled by media agencies indicates that the review is more of an effort to find a strategic partner than a cost-cutting exercise.”

Coca-Cola is the figurative scream to CRN’s small voice in the wilderness shouting to the media industry that there’s a better way to be approaching these relationships.

Many media agency giants have succumbed to the belief that media is a commodity and, with laser-like focus, squeeze rates down seemingly at the expense of quality and/or their clients’ business objectives. They have wrung true strategy—client results—out of their own business plans and, as such, linger in the world of ever-decreasing and dangerous margins.

For decades, we’ve been on the receiving end of a media buying community that forces competitive pricing shootouts for the lowest cost per point, with little discussion of clients’ marketing needs. Even acknowledging that the latest trend, programmatic buying, has the ability to target specific audiences, it still is very much an efficiency play.

Now Coca-Cola is looking for the “real thing,” a return on their investment rather than an inexpensive one.

They, no doubt, are looking at a different vocabulary: “clever,” “engage,” “connect,” “breakthrough,’’ “context.” They are asking questions like how can they use media differently, beyond the norm, to move an audience to purchase. It doesn’t matter whether it’s digital or legacy—the consumer doesn’t care. Coke and others are asking for better ways to enter the consciousness of the public no matter what the channel. It’s not just about the best rate.

And for now, Coke has asked Ogilvy to take a look because they believe folks who focus all day long on creative ways to attract peoples’ attention through ads should also be able to find creative ways to penetrate the very media environment where that creative appears.

Now that’s refreshing.

Barry Berman