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Sue Todd 

Let's shout louder about inspiring creative excellence

Let's shout louder about inspiring creative excellence

Sue Todd, CEO of Magnetic, says the use of creativity as a competitive weapon has never been more important.

Dentsu Aegis Network's recent acquisition of John Brown Media was a stunning endorsement of the strength of magazine media, with the media network planning to integrate John Brown's expertise into its iProspect business, growing richer search campaigns by offering the incentive of compelling content.

Hearst's recent win of the Asda content account, plus the launch of cultural creative agency ADVENTURE by Bauer Media and Time Inc. UK's content division, are all symbols of the dynamism and innovation in magazine media, which is part of a thriving publishing sector that contributes £10 billion to the UK economy and creates 231,000 jobs.

More than this, magazines have always helped to grow and inspire audiences through ideas, craft, and design. Our most recent study of 15,000 magazine readers' motivations and habits, called 'The Rules of Attraction', uncovered that 83% of readers agree the content gives them ideas and inspiration.

Publishers have always cared about great content and strong advertising creative plays a significant part in this. Ads for magazine readers are an intrinsic part of the audience experience and are the most welcomed format, according to research that shows that more UK consumers prefer to look at ads in print magazines than any other media (Adobe, 'Click Here: The State of Online Advertising').

This close relationship between advertising creativity and audience explains why publishers have a vested interest in best-in-class advertising quality and are passionate about the ads that they carry - a commitment which encourages higher creative standards.

The D&AD awards provide a showcase for this creativity and it was fantastic to see some strong magazine media ad campaigns recognised just last month. Leo Burnett's collaboration with Cosmopolitan to create the 'Suffocation' campaign on behalf of victim support charity Karma Nirvana won a D&AD pencil. The work featured a plastic wraparound cover, encasing an image of a woman apparently being suffocated. A great example of creativity inspiring action in a passionate audience.

In a more playful vein, adam&eveDDB's 'Bad Fit' campaign for Harvey Nichols was lauded by D&AD judges. The work built on the audience's close relationship to fashion advertising, twisting expectations of traditional creative by featuring models in ill-fitting clothes. Us fashion lovers were left in little doubt that we "best get there early" to bag the clothes that actually did fit.

While these examples show brands taking ownership and producing amazing creativity to inspire an audience, there's still work to do in encouraging more of the same. I was reminded of this when I interviewed Cilla Snowball, the group chairman and group CEO of AMV BBDO, in a session at the recent PPA Festival of Magazine Media.

Cilla is a strong believer in using the power of magazine media to connect with consumers and shared her views on how we can make this best happen as an industry.

"Never stop obsessing about the best creative work" is essentially Cilla's mantra and has informed long-running campaigns for AMV clients including The Economist, Sainsbury's and Guinness.

A great example is the Sainsbury's 'Make your roast go further' campaign, which helped consumers keep the Sunday roast at the centre of family life, ensuring that Sainsbury's offered a unique and useful perspective to its audience.

Whilst Cilla acknowledged that the world of creativity and content has changed hugely over recent years, she reinforced the message that the ability to use creativity as a competitive weapon has not. The world of content may be complicated, but excellent work will always be excellent work.

In a comment that chimed with the logic of the Dentsu Aegis/John Brown deal, Cilla said of the ad agency's role: "There's no shortage of data, there's an algorithm for everything. But we need to remember our humanity, ferret out key insights and execute great work."

There's a lesson there for all of us in the media world. Let's never forget to celebrate creativity. Cilla impressed upon the audience that media owners, media agencies and creative agencies need to do everything possible to showcase their creativity - it's on us to show our ideas. Her big tip to publishers: "Don't be afraid to share the work you're most proud of."

The whole media industry needs to focus on the solutions that it has created. So let's be proud and stand tall, shout at the top of our voices about the incredible and innovative work that is around us.

On one level we need to keep entering awards, because awarded work is highly likely to drive market share. But, most of all, do not be shy about celebrating advertising excellence that engages audiences. And, whenever you get a chance, step outside the day-to-day transactional reality with clients and have a chat about inspirational advertising ideas.


Magnetic is the new marketing body for magazine media.

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