Having four grandchildren under the age of five is a really interesting experience. As an old media hack, observing their innate creativity, their general disinclination to accept responsibility for any of their own actions, other than those that are rewarded with unconditional praise, and their periodic tantrums, makes me hanker for the old days back in a full service advertising agency. You know, when advertising was a marketing discipline, not just a line on a balance sheet and you could calculate campaign GRPS by throwing darts at a dartboard.
I often wish the late Alan McClarty and I had patented that system. It was incredibly accurate and right up there with the best of Google algorithms. Our ability to generate high audiences on relatively low budgets was both legendary and, until now, a well-protected trade secret. We were never irresponsible though, and we always stuck to well established media practice (Reach x Frequency = GRPS). So treble tops generated 60 GRPS (20% @3OTS). 50 GRPS for a bulls-eye! For some strange reason though, our campaigns always performed worse after a long media lunch, and totally underperformed on a Friday evening. Go figure! Obviously some innate flaw in the system.
In those days, we had as much fun in media as my grandchildren have in the sandpit. Interestingly, the primary emotion that seems to govern the sandpit relationship between my grandchildren, is their constant fear that what they have is not quite as nice as what the others have (Well, not so much the 4 year old because she’s quite grown up). But they have no concept of the cost of anything, and every squabble centres on the perceived value of the mutually desired object. A plastic margarine tub has as much nominal value as a battery operated earth mover. Depending, of course on who actually is actually holding the object. Flair-ups over custard are particularly brutal.
The sight of a bunch of grown-ups squabbling over the funding of media data under the SAARF banner leaves me incredulous. Each convinced that they are not getting their “fair share” they would rather pollute the sandpit than let anybody else play in it. Unlike my grandchildren though, these giants of the industry focus their squabbles on the price of everything, and show little regard for the value. And when confronted by concerned onlookers they all point at the other and default to the time honoured IME solution. It Wasn’t Me!
With toddlers it’s understandable. With adults it’s simply called greed. I’ve no idea what the solution is but at least with grandchildren you can stick them in the naughty corner.
In the meantime, I’m in the pub practising my darts. Mayibuye media!
Gordon Muller is Africa’s ‘oldest surviving media planner. Find his blog here.
IMAGE: Wikimedia Commons
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