Newspapers, Get On The Phone to Creative Agencies

Photo of a businessman sat at a desk with two traditional telephones, one red and one black. Both handsets are raised and he doesn't know who to talk to first.
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Newspapers are failing to engage with creative agencies says Jules Hall, the founder of The Hallway.

“I was looking back at who had come to visit us in the last six months. Val Morgan has been in, JCDecaux has been in, Adshel has been in and Google has been in. Not a single newspaper company.”

Hall made the comments at The Newspaper Works’ Future Forum in Sydney.

Joining Hall on the panel was Mat Baxter, CEO of media agency UM. Baxter agreed with Hall. “It’s hugely underutilised,” he said adding it is critically important newspapers begin engaging with creative agencies “on par with media agencies”.

Baxter acknowledged the shift of agency attention to digital but was keen to point out both media owners and agencies are playing a part in this.

“One of the things that frustrates me a lot is that we sit in these kinds of forums and they’ll always show a chart that says ‘digital is getting a disproportionate share now of agency’s attention and money and effort’. Why is that?” said Baxter.

“There’s a very strong correlation between the pro-activity that exists, the hunger that exists in these businesses and the level of engagement they get from the marketplace.”

Baxter also noted how the shoe is on the other foot these days for digital publishers.

He said: “Not too long ago, they were pushing their product up a very steep hill and it was the newspaper industry and the television industry and the radio industry that would just wait for the phone to ring and take a booking.

“The challenge for the newspaper industry, the radio industry and all of these other analogue and older world industries is to get some of that hunger and appetite and energy back.”

Given that today’s connected consumer has multiple ways to avoid engaging with advertising, Baxter inferred publishers shouldn’t shy away from the insight creative and media agencies can provide.

“Nobody ever wanted advertising,” said Baxter. “Nobody has ever lent in and paid for advertising but people historically have wanted your products and lent in and purchased your products.

“Advertising was an exchange that was tolerated between consumers and the media.”

According to Baxter, this is now the greatest challenge for the ad industry.

“I can go off and find that content without necessarily having to be interrupted by advertising,” he said, adding advertising needs to focus more on entertainment to keep people’s attention.

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