The second session of the IAA Debates was held at the IAA premises on May 18, with industry leaders presenting their views on the subject:“Who Should Lead: Media or Brand Agencies?” The panel, which was made up of industry leaders, Tarek Miknas, CEO at FP7; John Antoniades, CEO at Starcom Mediavest Group; and, Fadi Ghosn, Director, Marketing, Sales & Service, Ford Middle East and Africa – represented the viewpoints of media and brand agencies, as well as the client’s perspective, while Vanessa Khalil, senior journalist at Communicate Magazine, moderated the debate.
In recent years, the matter of whether creative agencies or media agencies should take the lead in promoting a brand’s story, has been hotly contested with roles becoming increasingly blurred. Lance de Masi, President of the IAA UAE Chapter introduced the topic of the debate saying, “What is being played today is a zero sum game. When the dust settles, I believe there will be winners and losers. The general question is how should that battle be settled?”
Providing a media agency’s perspective, Antoniades said: “The advanced investment and effort behind data and technology has put media agencies in the front seat to create a more joined-up end-to-end user experience, which is what clients and consumers are demanding.”
As head of a creative agency, Miknas’ position was that creative agencies would always be better at managing the entire process because, “even though we [all agencies] work for the brand, creative agencies are the custodians of the brand story and brand message; that’s where the big ideas come from. That’s where the emotional bond between brand and consumer is built. But ultimately, you need both hands to clap; and in the future, we’ll be seeing a hybrid model that incorporates both creative and media specializations in one.”
As a client, Ghosn was firm in his belief that creative and media agencies need to come together. “In creating sustainable competitive advantage, creativity cannot be confined to a single department. Message relevance, media selection, timing, location…all work hand in hand with the creative to deliver great engagement. To strike that perfect understanding of the consumer, all stakeholders must be part of the conversation from the outset.”
The evening saw enthusiastic audience participation, as viewers, all of whom were from branding agencies, MBUs or advertisers, questioned the panelists’ positions and presented views of their own. It also provided a great opportunity for industry executives to network.
“The debate highlighted the transformations that are reshaping the advertising sector and blurring the lines between media and creative agencies, and the role that clients are playing in pushing for deeper collaboration between them. It also touched on the rapidly changing media habits of the consumer, and the need for agencies and clients to be nimble and follow them to new platforms. Debates like this are critical for exploring and understanding what the future of the advertising sector will look like,” said Omar Christidis of Arabnet and a member of the audience.