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In our next ESG interview, we speak to Aisha Graham, Production Manager at Happy Hour Productions to hear a view from the creative side of the industry. Aisha joined Happy Hour in 2018. Prior to advertising, Aisha worked in manufacturing but decided on a career change and moved to Bristol to start her career in media. At Happy Hour, Aisha spearheads sustainability initiatives, processes and practices within the business. 

Q. Tell me about what Happy Hour are doing currently that relates to ESG and sustainability and your involvement in this.

A. Throughout my life I have felt strongly about environmental, social issues and injustices. I come from a family of social workers and dare I say, hippies, who care immensely about sustainability (both out of need and responsibility) and about fairness for all. This foundation seeped into all aspects of my life and career which developed into an attachment to ESG within the workplace.

At Happy Hour, I spearhead our sustainability initiatives, processes and practices (e.g. paperless office, switching to reusable cups and flasks, refillable hand soap bottles, swapping paper for cotton towels, working with our cleaners to use 100% eco-friendly products, hiring electric vans for shoots and more). I also organised a work placement for five Bristol students to gain experience in the notoriously hard to break-into TV industry. I am always striving for improvements and updates to business practices and accountability, community engagement and diversity & inclusion. And I am committed to staying informed and taking steps towards addressing ESG issues, through both work and personal actions.

Outside of work, I am always trying to reduce my family’s carbon footprint. I shop in our local refill grocery store, use cloth nappies for our baby, don’t eat meat and last year we upgraded to an electric car which has been incredible.

As an SME, Happy Hour has the unique opportunity to engage all co-workers in the development and continual refinement of our ESG strategy and principles.

Our workplace culture is ‘earth-first’, and we’re proud that over 85% of our employees either cycle, walk, use public transport or drive an electric vehicle to work. We have also introduced other initiatives to reduce our environmental footprint, such as:

  • Using 100% renewable energy suppliers
  • Promoting a paperless office (we’re almost there!)
  • Creating and implementing a sustainability-focused shoot guidelines policy which leads with the five ‘Rs’ – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle. This is especially important as, when it comes to shooting, elements like props, sets, lighting, catering transport etc. can contribute hugely to landfill waste and carbon emissions
  • Building relationships and switching contracts to local businesses that have certifiable green credentials
  • Actively involving and training staff with organisations such as AdGreen, Albert, Green Alliance, Giki Zero. Here’s a little more info on these businesses:

AdGreen: Its purpose is to motivate the advertising industry to reduce the negative environmental impacts of production and enable the community to measure and understand waste and carbon emissions.

Albert: Is the home of environmental sustainability for the screen industries – to share, learn and act on our impact, including free, bespoke training days to everyone in the TV and film industries.

Green Alliance: Is an independent think tank and charity focused on ambitious leadership for the environment. Since 1979, it has been working with the most influential leaders in business, NGOs and politics to accelerate political action and create transformative policy for a green and prosperous UK.

Giki Zero: Is a B Corp and United Nations Race To Zero Accelerator for employee engagement, led by sustainability professionals and supported by climate experts, on a mission to help people cut carbon.

 

Q. Do you think advertisers/ clients should be planning media investment with ESG goals in mind?

A. Absolutely. Consumers value brands that demonstrate a commitment to environmental and social responsibility. Advertisers and clients should consider ESG factors in their media planning to not only contribute to sustainability but also to appeal to a conscientious consumer base. By doing this, they can not only make a positive environmental impact but also enhance their brand reputation.

 

Q. Are advertisers/clients and their agencies leaning forward on this topic collaboratively?

A. Yes, we’ve seen a noticeable shift towards collaborative efforts between advertisers and agencies in addressing ESG issues. Many clients now see the value in aligning their brands with sustainability goals and agencies are proactively incorporating ESG considerations into their strategies. This collaboration is fostering a more responsible and ethical approach to advertising, creating a win-win situation for brands, agencies, production companies and consumers alike. This almost always plays a part in the pitch/tender process and can start as early as the RFI, with clients wanting to make sure that their supply chain is supporting them in achieving their ESG goals.

 

Q. Who is inspiring you or innovating in this area at the moment?

A. From a creative point of view, we’ve recently seen a couple of genius, hard hitting ads which went out in the run up to COP28.

The first by Lucky Generals really makes us think about our individual carbon footprints when it comes to pensions and how/where they’re invested. The ad uses actress Olivia Coleman to deliver a satirical message about the damage that obliviously investing into pension funds is having on the environment, cleverly using humour and emotion to deliver hard hitting messages.

Check out the ad here

The second is by 4Creative, developed to promote Channel 4’s Climate Change Season and question the damage being done by those at the top. It pokes fun at those stereotypes in power who aren’t taking climate change seriously, asking are they doing enough to reduce their “carbon skid mark”. It certainly raises a few eyebrows and gets you thinking!

Check out the ad here

 

Q. If you were King/Queen for the day, what ESG policy would you decree?!

A. That all able-bodied, employed adults do compulsory water-ways clean-ups, once a week, for three hours. Whether rivers, ponds, seas or oceans, wherever is local to them. This time would be within working hours and would be classed as a minimum ‘donation’ from each employer to the climate emergency.

Happy Hour Productions is a leading TV and video advertising agency, covering everything from animation to live action, all delivered in-house, under one big, happy roof in Bristol. It is currently ranked in the top 35 creative agencies in the UK, and in the top two outside London.

Happy Hour is well experienced in developing original TV ads and video content for clients of all shapes and sizes, from scale-ups to well-known brands, across all sectors including retail, food & drink, education, financial services, property and travel.

 

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We have kicked off the week with some positive news.

It is fair to say that the previous few months have been a whirlwind for our team, from new business pitches to getting new and exciting work over the line. Throughout this, our team as always have remained dedicated, enthusiastic and driven to deliver nothing but the best for our clients and prospects.  

We understand that a pitch requires a whole team effort. We want to ensure that everyone is involved within the process, whether that be in the room or those who assist in the research and planning phase. Whilst we strive to deliver for our clients, we recognise the extensive effort and pressures that can come with the pitch process.

As we are committed to establishing a positive experience, we have opted to officially sign up to a great initiative led by the IPA – the Pitch Positive Pledge.

So, what does this mean for us as an agency?

From a new business standpoint, it signifies our commitment to a standardised and accountable pitching process. This includes maintaining quality briefs, reasonable requests and appropriate timelines.

From an agency perspective, it goes without saying that our people are our number one, so we really focus on prioritising our team’s well-being. We work as a united team and with that comes with strongly formed relationships. Ultimately, we are here to back each other up every step of the way.  

To streamline our pitching process, we are aware of our responsibilities as an agency and see the importance of cutting through the noise, by ensuring our clients make it clear on what they don’t want to see at a pitch and not wasting advertisers time through diligent work.  

We strive to continue on our positive path by harnessing this momentum to accelerate growth for our clients whilst fostering agency growth in the right way.  

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We’re delighted to introduce this week’s guest Laura Chase, Chief Commercial Officer at WeAre8, a digital ecosystem built to transform the $800 bn digital ad market by putting people, Publishers and our planet at the heart of the economics.

Laura leads the WeAre8 commercial team, playing an integral role in launching and growing the platform in the UK. As part of this, she has developed partnerships with all major agency networks and created WeAre8’s Publisher partnership framework, onboarding PinkNews, Hello! and The Independent.

Prior to WeAre8, Laura spearheaded Hearst’s social responsibility and sustainability offerings and lead the creative solutions and experiential team. Laura has experience leading high performing sales, partnerships & content teams and is deeply committed to transforming the ad industry by putting people and the planet first.

Q. Tell me about what WeAre8 is doing currently that relates to ESG and sustainability.

A. Our whole business is built with ESG in mind. Sue Fennessy, our inspirational Founder and CEO, wanted to address the negative societal and environmental impacts social media and digital advertising has created across the world, all whilst offering brands a more effective, transparent and waste free ad model.

At the heart of our ecosystem is our hate free social app.  WeAre8’s first-in-market verification process enables us to eliminate hateful and harmful content giving our citizens a premium, elevated and inspiring feed that leaves them feeling positive.  When people choose to watch ads on WeAre8, 60% of every £1 or $1 that comes into our business is given back to people, charities and the planet.

Our ad model is a far more sustainable choice for brands.  Because people consciously and intentionally choose to watch each and every ad, we are able to completely eliminate e-waste.  WeAre8 also invests in climate solutions, in partnership with Ecologi, helping projects in the world’s hardest hit areas every time an ad is viewed.

 

Q. In terms of your advertising portfolio, it must be a no brainer for Charities but are you finding that the big corporates are also very interested, or others in-between?

A. Yes – it’s a real mix. We’ve worked with some of the world’s biggest brands over the past couple of years including Unilever, McDonalds, Nike, Nestle, Mars, eBay, Mondelez, Heineken, Audi. It is great that so many brands are focused on improving their ESG impact and spending their budget somewhere more meaningful. The important thing that we always remind brands and agencies is that with WeAre8, you don’t need to compromise on performance to make positive impact. With every campaign on the app brands will get 67X more attention than on Instagram and can expect to see CTR’s of around 5%.

We should be a BAU partner and all of the positive impact that happens behind the scenes supports brands in delivering against the corporate ESG goals.

 

Q. Are advertisers and agencies leaning forward on this area collaboratively, do you think one is pushing more than the other?

A. Some (brilliant) clients really lean in and others are driven by their agency. There’s a lot of positive intent across the industry, but we all do need to come together more to force the change we want and need to see.

Everyone – clients, agencies and media owners can and absolutely should be doing more and pushing each other.  Progress over perfection.

We should also be sharing and celebrating new innovations, best practice and brilliant people more.

 

Q. Are there any brands you see implementing a robust strategy in this space and if so, what are they doing?

A. One client that we work with who really stands out for me is giffgaff. There is an amazing team over there who are deeply committed to collaborating, learning and improving. More generally, brands such as Vinted, eBay, Backmarket are inspiring others through their concepts and are important in driving change and the circular economy.

 

Q. Outside of the brands themselves, are there any other people/partners/companies who are inspiring you?

A. Scope 3 is excellent. It works tirelessly to help agencies and brands make better media choices – offering new tools and services to improve the industry.

I also want to shout out to someone in my team at WeAre8, Jess Stead. Jess is still fairly early on in her career, but she is deeply committed to her own knowledge and how she can do her bit to contribute towards positive ESG change within her work. She does a lot of it off her own back. We need people like this coming through.

 

Q. What do you think will be the focus of the industry in 2024 with regards to an ESG agenda?

A. Reducing and eliminating fraud and e-waste is critical. The internet is now worse for the environment than air travel. Brands and agencies should all be focusing attention on how they do more with less. From a wider ESG perspective also mental health, kindness and supporting each other is key for brands to consider. Not just how we show up, but where we show up. We need to think about how we can make media as an industry healthier for humanity.

There’s lots of positive things happening already which gives me hope.  We just need much more of it.

 

Q. If you were Queen for the day what ESG policy would you decree?

A. More than one (sorry)…

  1. Enforce the criminalisation of hateful and harmful content
  2. More reward and recognition for the businesses and people doing the best work in the sustainability space. We should make them all feel like absolute heroes so future generations are inspired to take a cleaner, greener more planet friendly path.

 

About WeAre8

WeAre8 is all about making a BIG impact on the world through small daily actions. People can get paid and change the world every time they watch an ad with WeAre8 – either in app or with our premium publisher partners on the open web.

We were excited to launch Real Techniques ‘Our Tools. Your Way’ campaign this week.

As reported by Campaign, the launch saw an OOH stunt light up iconic London landmarks with a call to arms to ‘#MakeYourStatement’ and settle long-standing makeup debates across the social beauty community while celebrating individuality and creative beauty styles.  

The launch had influencer support, with Izzie Rogers taking to Oxford Street to talk all things beauty with healthy debates and sharing Real Techniques’ make-up tool samples.  

Real Techniques media will go beyond OOH, with activity running across TikTok, Instagram and YouTube until mid-March, with various bursts throughout the year. The campaign showcases that Real Techniques has the makeup tools for whatever look you want to achieve, whoever you are. 

We were excited to launch Real Techniques ‘Our Tools. Your Way’ campaign this week.

Emily Hudson, International Marketing Manager at PPI beauty, said: “We are proud to emphasise a fundamental truth: the tools we use are not mere accessories, but essential partners in the artistry of makeup. We believe in empowering cosmetics enthusiasts to elevate their beauty routines, recognising that quality tools are the unsung heroes behind every flawless look. We know that everyone has their own makeup secrets and hacks, and we want the #MakeYourStatement campaign to get the audience debating about them.”  

 

Wendy Chung, Senior Account Executive

Its fair to say that MI’ers are keen to step under the spotlight, our Senior Account Executive Wendy Chung is up next to give us the inside scoop on how she got into the industry and what she loves about agency life.  

Wendy Chung, Senior Account Executive

What led you to a career in media? 

After studying for my bachelors in Taiwan, I decided to apply for my masters in media at Kings’ College London. Luckily, I was accepted, and my media chapter commenced. Studying abroad was always on my radar, so I knew it would happen someday.  Like many industries, media is so broad, so I wasn’t too sure which avenue I would eventually go down. The one thing I was sure of, was that I was drawn in by the creativity and diversity that the industry had to offer. After completing my master’s, I had set my heart on joining a media agency. I felt that being within an agency environment was a great stepping stone and platform to begin my professional career. London really is such a central hub for all things media, with various ideas and opportunities available so when I was offered the role at MI, it was a no brainer to accept and join the team.

 

What do you love about agency life? 

Agency life means that there is always something to learn and people to learn from. Being part of an agency allows you to act as a communication point with clients. We’re the intermediary for their work to push for the results that they are striving for.

What I love about MI as an agency is how personable it is. My move to the UK was quite daunting, but MI welcomed me with open arms. At no point did I feel like the new kid on the block, the team really took me under their wing. From day dot I felt at ease. The culture and environment here is great and there is so much internal diversity. I joined when we were coming out of lockdown and it was fantastic to experience agency life and interact with the social bunch that work there. Following such a big move meeting new people is so important, so I really count myself lucky to be here and working with likeminded people. The moment I started my role at MI was the moment that I felt like I was really building a life here in the UK.

 

What is your proudest and most memorable moment at MI?

Generally, I get that ‘proud’ feeling whenever a client is satisfied with my work. When a campaign does well and converts, you know that the hard work behind what you set out to do has paid off. It’s great to be able to share client campaign results that speak volumes to the work we do.

Andermatt is a client that I am proud to be working on, I really get the see the whole overview and progress of our campaigns. This is a completely new sector for me, but I love the concept of the company. Because we employ a burst strategy for its campaigns, I am able to get a really good understanding of its audiences and what makes a campaign successful. I guess you could say that I now know the ins and outs of the great outdoors of Switzerland!

 

What advice would you give to someone looking to enter the world of media? 

It may sound cliché, but I joined MI at an entry level and as media is so broad, I went into the role with a learning attitude. Learning concepts and remembering processes is one thing, but getting your hands dirty from the get-go means that you can become involved in all areas and accumulate more and more knowledge over time. It’s good to remember that when you do begin a career in media, or any industry for that matter, not all elements of a role will be interesting. You will be on a steep learning curve so have an open mind and keep learning from those around you.

 

Who’s your role model and why? 

This is super random, but it is one of my friends. I’ve known her since we were about 10 years old, and I really admire her outlook on her life and career. In a sense, I have followed in her footsteps as she left Taiwan after high school to move to Canada. I suppose we are on similar paths, and her move really spurred me on to have the courage to come and build my life here, sometimes seeing someone do something for themselves makes you think ‘I want to do that!’

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ESG has got us talking, it’s got us thinking and it’s got us doing. It’s a complex beast that is now core to what so many agencies and brands consider to be valuable and important for the future of businesses. We’re all at different stages in our ESG journeys and that’s what this series is all about. It’s about sharing thoughts, hearing from others about what they’re doing and who’s doing it well, and keeping the conversation going – as well as hopefully getting some key nuggets of insight along the way!

We’re going to be joined by a range of real ESG trail blazers in our eight-part series, interviewing people across the industry who are invested in the topic, whether professionally or personally.

We are joined this week by Alice Date, Group Sustainability Manager at Talon OOH. Alice has a wealth of experience in the realm of Sustainability. Previously working in the Climate Change and Sustainability Services team at EY Melbourne & Sydney, Alice played a pivotal role in propelling her team to global recognition by Verdantix as leaders in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) consulting. Adding to her professional expertise, she has completed the Sustainable Supply Chain Management programme at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and continues to champion sustainability best practice.

Q. Tell me about what Talon is doing currently that relates to ESG and sustainability and how you’re involved

A. I am Talon’s Group Sustainability Manager, which is a new role for the company. I lead on the development and execution of our internal sustainability strategy. Day-to-day, this involves developing new processes and policies, upskilling our teams and working with our suppliers. I also get involved externally through industry working groups and holding discussions with various stakeholders across different agencies and media owners.

Q. Do you think advertisers should be planning media investment with ESG goals in mind?

A. Definitely – given clients are consumer facing they have probably (and hopefully) already started considering sustainability and have set strategic goals. Sustainability extends into all facets of the business, including media, so we are seeing more pressure mounting on marketing functions to help their business achieve sustainability goals. If marketing teams aren’t already facing this pressure, it’s only a matter of when – as agencies we therefore must be cognisant of what to expect.

Q. Are advertisers and their agencies leaning forward on this topic collaboratively?

A. I have been surprised how far behind the industry is in sustainability generally, but progress is happening. So far, the collaboration happening seems to be being pushed by the clients themselves, Giffgaff for example has been pushing its agency to think creatively about its media planning and buying in support of its ‘Up To Good’ strategy which is awesome. I would however love to see agencies take a leading role in these conversations. Adland has climate tunnel vision at the moment, but sustainability encompasses a much broader set of topics so it’s important that we start collaborating on the bigger picture.

Q. Are there companies you feel have already demonstrated a robust strategy in this space and if so, what are they doing?

A. Yes, I have seen a few companies asking the right questions which is the best place to start. They want to know where their media is being placed, by who and using what materials. I’m seeing carbon reduction tabled as a lever in planning more and more often, but whilst it may be a consideration in planning, other key levers like price are still dominating the conversation.

Q. Who is inspiring you or innovating in this area at the moment?

A. I have really enjoyed seeing what Not On The High Street did for its recent Christmas campaign – not only is its messaging consistent with positive consumer behaviour change (Don’t Gift Landfill) but the billboard has also used materials in production that were donated to people experiencing homelessness through Crisis. It’s this ultimate combination of considering both messaging and waste that make this space so exciting, it’s exactly what the world needs more of.

 

 

Q. What do you think key players in the industry might be focused on in 2024 with regards to an ESG agenda?

A. I don’t see climate impact disappearing from focus in 2024, but I would love to see other environmental issues like biodiversity and waste acknowledged. The UK government has already mandated reporting against TCFD (Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures) and, with the TNFD (Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures) on the horizon, I think this will be the next wave. Our industry has always been good at highlighting social issues, but we must start thinking of them within the realm of sustainability and discussing them with the same rigour as climate change.

Q. If you were Queen/King for the day, what ESG policy would you decree?!

A. I decree that all advertising messaging must contribute positively to society either through positive consumer behavioural change or due to the impact of the product or service being advertised. Our industry has a HUGE role to play in the change we need to see!

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In a UK first, MI Media secured a partnership for the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association with much-loved TV soap, Coronation Street, for the first ever ‘Coronation Street Presents…’ As storyline research partner with the soap, MNDA will utilise this exclusive format to showcase the charity’s new advert. 

In another first, Coronation Street actor Daniel Brocklebank, whose character Billy Mayhew’s husband is affected by MND, is providing the VO for the ident. Throughout the rest of the campaign, we have secured unprecedented access for the MND Association to Coronation Street’s storylines to ensure that we can place the ad’s airtime against the most relevant episodes and plots. 

 Motor neurone disease (MND) is incurable, progressive and terminal. It will ultimately take everything from those living with it – the ability to walk, talk, eat and eventually breathe. Created by GOOD Agency the campaign shows the brutality of the disease, juxtaposed with the one thing it cannot take – The Love Inside. The idea is brought to life through beautifully shot, heart-rending scenes of real-life couple Mike and Zoe Sumner. Mike was diagnosed with MND in 2020. The film shows the powerful connection people maintain with their loved ones, despite the devastating impact of the disease.  

The message has been underlined by the death of Dr Louise Jordan, a former GP who supported those with MND. She stars in the later stage of the campaign and since filming in November, has sadly died. Her wish, and that of her family, is that the campaign, including the advert featuring her, goes ahead. 

The soundtrack used is ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ by legendary artist Roberta Flack. The use of the track is even more poignant as Roberta Flack herself is living with MND. 

Coronation Street, the UK’s longest running soap, has a current storyline where a central character, Paul Foreman, has been diagnosed with MND. The campaign partners with Coronation Street, leveraging the increased awareness of the disease to deepen the connection with the MND Association. 

The TV advert and social campaign launched on the 29th January during Coronation Street on ITV at 8pm. The launch will be followed by subsequent adverts at pivotal points in Paul’s storyline over the coming months.  

Tanya Curry, Chief Executive at Motor Neurone Disease Association said, “The launch of this new campaign is an important moment for the MND Association as we explore new ways of raising awareness of this devastating disease among a different audience.”

“From the outset we wanted the campaign to focus on real people and capture the range of emotions experienced during a person’s MND journey. By working collaboratively with a dedicated and professional team, including people with MND who have helped us shape each element, I believe we have done that in a very powerful way.”

“We hope these adverts, as part of a wider reaching campaign, will deepen our connection with the Coronation Street audience, inspire support for our work and push us closer to achieving our vision of making MND treatable and ultimately curable.” 

At MI we care about Accelerating Growth. It’s an objective we strive to achieve for every client, both sustainably over time as well as by delivering immediate impact on campaigns and projects. Whether it’s by using our sharp marketing insight, smart media innovation or real time management intelligence (the three key pillars of MI Media), Accelerating Growth is where we want to take our clients by truly understanding their business and their goals. But it goes further than this; it’s not only about what we do for our clients, but also the growth of our people, investing in them to be the best they can.  

Supporting us with our Accelerate Growth journey is the learning we absorb from other innovators and specialists in the industry. Whether its brands, creatives, specialist agencies or media owners, we are constantly inspired by the people around us who are finding new and exciting ways to engage consumers. 

Coined at MI as “JanuAVry”, this month we focused on drilling down into this ever-evolving AV landscape by welcoming key media owners Sky, Channel 4 and ITV in to speak to our teams. We wanted to understand what they are doing to reach existing and new audiences both via traditional linear TV and creatively across their digital streaming channels. We also had the team at Thinkbox in to present their research around how audiences behave in this ‘evolving world’, helping us to connect the dots.

What is the AV challenge 

The digitisation of traditional TV is biggest thing on our minds as we start 2024 – how can we purposefully plan, buy and measure? Everyone we speak to, whether it’s marketers, media owners or other agencies, is looking at the ‘AV challenge’ and are finding it a difficult one to solve.  

It’s our job, as media experts, to navigate the changing behaviour of consumers, to ensure that no matter the channel we engage using relevant ads, in the right contextual environment to make an impact, whilst maintaining brand integrity. 

However, we are all at different stages of our understanding. linear TV, live programming, streaming, YouTube, CTV, BVOD, AVOD – the potential options are endless. It’s not just the channels themselves, but the creative formats available, the audience attention in channel, the demographics across platform, the content itself and the cross-channel measurement. 

Key insights from some of the UK’s leading media owners 

The major TV companies were slow off the mark with digital innovation. Thankfully that is now changing, driven by audience diversification and traditional TV audiences dwindling, especially in the under 45’s.  

Sky is centred around audiences and measurement, meaning it’s better for targeting across its AV solutions, connecting the dots to create fully rounded campaigns. Sky knows its target audiences based on Sky analytics and the vast amount of data it captures. The team highlighted that categories such as sport are undeniably bigger than ever and Sky has invested heavily in supercharging women’s sport as it continues to gain great popularity. It measured that nearly half of adults watch Sky VOD, with 89% of VOD being watched on the big screen. When delivering for clients, Sky’s measurement is based on viewers seeing at least 75% of the TV spot before it’s measured as being delivered, which shows a level of transparency and ensures accurate and effective results for clients. 

ITV has really put emphasis on creativity, for example its Planet V booking platform is opening up a more sophisticated understanding around audience habits and lifestyle. The adoption of AI technology has assisted in producing interesting and useful data so that ITV can be smarter with targeting, such as matching ads to viewer emotions linked to shows. Similar to the trends we saw with Sky, ITV’s VOD service “ITVX” is dominated by the big screen. The ITV Adlab team is focused on driving innovative ideas for marketers and is always looking to see if it can offer something different. With the launch of the ITVBe studio, it has opened up new avenues for brands looking for creativity and partnerships. 

Channel 4’s core focus on quality content helps to justify it on client plans. With smarter targeting options in the pipeline, we can start to make those smarter cross-media decisions. C4 has plenty of creative solutions to offer with Dynamic TV allowing ads to be tailored to anything from the weather to the time of day. Its Ad Pause functionality encourages audience engagement using interactive static images which occasionally include QR codes or competition initiatives. It has several interesting initiatives on the way including postcode targeting, 24 hour high priority campaign boosts for VOD as well as investment into its measurement and research team. 

Thinkbox naturally concentrated on the positives around TV. There is no doubt that good advertising encompasses more than one of our senses. Some of the videos they showed us highlighted the correlation between audio and visual cues in engaging audiences who are passively watching TV whilst doing something else (on their phones for example). That means that creative strategy is crucial. We are working very closely with our clients, in collaboration with their creative agencies, to understand the behaviour of their target audiences, to ensure media strategy and creative execution are pulling in the same direction. At MI we are also focused on testing Attention Metrics with Lumen as a consistent measurement that can be applied across a significant amount of channels on the media plan. 

It’s not just TV that’s been affected and influenced by changes in consumer behaviour. What’s clear is that being ahead of the curve from a data perspective is crucial to determining what works best for clients to make their media work hard and effectively. Look out for more to come from us on the topic of the changing AV landscape and cross channel media. 

Jessy Howorth, Account Manager

2023 saw our Day in The Life of series give people across MI the opportunity to take to the stage. Up next is Jessy Howorth to give us valuable insight into what it is like to be an Account Manager at MI. 

Jessy Howorth, Account Manager

What led you to a career in media? 

I would say that I am both creative and numerical, so once I completed my economics degree, I decided to focus on the latter. I secured a job at Arcadia HQ in merchandising and, whilst it did have some creative aspects, it was heavily analytical in the sales forecasting element. After doing this role for a while, I realised that it wasn’t a passion of mine. I flew off to Australia for two years and when I returned, I decided to career change and go into media.

I always had a spark for marketing and advertising and after doing a deep dive into the world of media, I realised that it was very analytical which suited me down to a T. Having come back from sunny Australia and landing home to a global pandemic and the country in lockdown, the job hunt began, I spotted an MI job advert, applied Thursday, had two interviews in quick succession, had a job offer on the Monday and here we are!

 

What does a typical day look like for you? 

The nature of my role means that no two days are the same. There are of course certain tasks that are done each and every day, but usually my days are varied across the running of campaigns and also strategy prospecting. My daily focus is divided between looking into current activity and looking ahead to decide what the next best steps will be for our clients.

 

What is your proudest and most memorable moment at MI?

Firstly, I feel like I did take to media like a duck to water. I  put this down to the fact that I had a team member who would always be available to offer me guidance and support. This combined with my own efforts meant I was promoted after just six months at MI.

In terms of client and campaign success, 2021 was the year that MSF had invested into its Christmas press campaign. I planned & managed the whole process and, after a lot of negotiation, I managed to wrangle some great deals to ensure that MSF’s money went that much further. This hard work paid off as we were able to deliver a 125% increase in ROI with triple the investment from MSF’s previous Christmas campaign.

Following the campaign, we were invited to MSF’s all agency presentation. While I was still quite new to MI and the industry, I was able to stand up and speak about how we worked with MSF and what we achieved, and I think it’s fair to say they were very happy.

 

What advice would you give to someone looking to enter the world of media? 

What I would say to someone wanting to get into the industry is to figure out what aspect you are actually interested in. Marketing and advertising is so vast and there are so many elements to it: creative, strategy, media – the list goes on. So, do your research, suss out the industry and figure out what you want your chosen niche to be. That is sometimes the hardest part, once you have established that you can then grab hold of any opportunities that will lead you down the path best suited to you.

 

What mistake have you learnt the most from?  

Not checking my work! Over time I have now become super vigilant, as I have learnt from my ‘not reading emails before sending’ mistakes. Oh also, don’t p*ss off finance, get on their good side (I’m still working on that). That will be a work in progress process for 2024!

 

Do you have a dream client or an ad campaign you particularly love? 

Anywhere that will give some good freebies! No, in all seriousness, there are so many dream clients and great campaigns of 2023.

Looking back at 2023, the Barbie campaign that sparked a worldwide buzz would have been insane to work on. Not only was it clever, but it really took over the advertising space, it was everywhere – you couldn’t escape it!

Off the back of Christmas, working on a John Lewis Christmas campaign would also be such fun, but I think a campaign that I really rated this year was BrewDog’s anti Qatar World Cup activity which included experiential along with super witty OOH.

 

Who’s your role model and why? 

Most people say celebs, right? But I am actually going to say my Dad. He started his own advertising agency 30 years ago and it’s still going strong to this day, maybe that is where the interest in media stemmed from?! Now that I work for an agency myself, I can fully relate and appreciate how difficult and challenging running the show must be.

Yesterday we headed to Campaign’s Breakfast Briefing which focused on the year ahead. Whilst brands and agencies felt the crunch of 2023 with the ad land facing turbulent times, the event provided insights on how we can tap into vital growth drivers this year.  

Here are our key takeaways for the year ahead for brands, agencies and the media industry: 

The year ahead for brands 

Whilst it’s fair to say that the market has faced tough times lately, the panellists challenged us to consider how unpredictability can keep us all on our toes.  If we surround ourselves with brilliant people, it will make facing challenges just that bit easier.  

So what challenges might 2024 pose?  

2023 witnessed some big brand campaigns that took over the advertising space. You only have to think pink before one comes to mind,  Toby Horry, global marketing director, TUI highlighted how so many clients want their very own big Barbie brand moment, but reminded us that it is crucial for brands to establish a bedrock of sustained marketing along with those firework moments. Brands also need to determine whether their product is strong enough to execute a Barbie approach as it requires a lot of thought and a huge level of creativity. Marketers need to tap back into effective creativity, bad creative simply won’t work. With user generated content on the rise, Nishma Patell Robb, president, WACL reminds the more risk averse marketeers that taking risks is a must if we want to cut through the noise and stand out. Ultimately, those brands that pay close attention to their consumers behaviours will be the brands that come out on top and win.  

Creativity continued to be a theme throughout the event, with Zoe Eagle, co chief, Accenture Song UK highlighting the importance of making people really care about brands. There is no set approach to increasing brand relevancy, creativity can be used in so many different ways, as Ryan Fisher, president, Wieden+Kennedy London, pointed out, there is no cookie cutter creativity method. We must be nimble and brave. 

The year ahead for creativity  

Lynsey Atkin, executive creative director, Channel 4 reminded us of the vast amount of media space that is available to us to tell different stories., By being cultural sponges and consuming more ‘stuff’, we can better understand the opportunities. Atkins’ fellow panellists agreed that it goes beyond simply following trends, it’s about doing what is right for the brand. Whilst we live through these turbulent times, we need to stray away from creatively playing it safe. It’s time we got comfortable with being uncomfortable. As Atkin so rightly put it, we need to display hope and optimism by showing swagger through our big brands. 

The year ahead for media  

Despite there being a shift in commerce, and accessible edutainment, Kris Boger, general manager, TikTok, warned us not be too hasty and avoid rushing into novelties. Doing so can put brands at risk of creating missteps.  With brands and clients always wanting to do the new next best thing it’s important to test and learn before rushing into the ‘next big thing’. 

 

It is clear to say that the session provided great insights and inspiration to kick off the new year Dan Morris, executive creative director, TheOr summed up our industry’s role for 2024: be the sugar that helps the medicine go down.  As an agency it is our duty to create that sugary sweet magic for our clients