My Cannes days are over. The Gutter Bar is just not big enough for me any more, quite literally. And anyway, unless I can have my own yacht, like in the ‘80s, I would sulk. But I feel as if I’ve heard every speech and morsel of gossip while watering my beans in Tring.
We like Google UK at Thinkbox. We used to use a quote from Google’s Mark Howe (formerly of this parish) in which he encouraged advertisers to increase spend on TV advertising, in conjunction with spending more on search, because they work so well together. And Google’s Dominic Allon used the phrase ‘special relationship’ to describe TV and online at a Thinkbox event. YouTube is also doing good business with UK TV channels carrying some on-demand TV services.
So I was a little surprised – though ultimately very pleased – to hear Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt’s comments at Cannes last week. At a seminar he recalled how he had thought ‘hell had frozen over’ when he heard of the plan for Google to join the many other online brands advertising on TV with an ad for its Chrome Browser to run in the Super Bowl.
Last week that stunning ad – by BBH New York – scooped Google its first-ever award at Cannes. Actually we show this work all the time to prove that you don’t have to spend fortunes to make a great TV ad. It’s a classic: story-telling, emotion and product demonstration all executed with what Ed Morris described as ‘great humanity and humility’
Mr Schmidt’s initial incredulity was probably ideological, but he claimed it was based on a belief that TV ads did not represent good value. I wish he had asked us – or, better, PwC and the IPA. We could have reassured him that TV ads are actually the best value advertising investment you can make and produce the best return pound for pound (or dollar for dollar). We would also have reiterated that TV + online is the most effective marketing combination in so many ways.
Thankfully, Mr Schmidt discovered all this first hand because at Cannes he admitted that the analysis of their TV ad’s effectiveness showed that the it had ‘paid for itself’. Maybe this explains Google’s recent announcement that it wants to join the TV industry and is planning to spend $100 million globally on original TV content for YouTube. This is welcome news of course – as well as a thumbs up for TV. It also makes sense following Mr Schmidt’s comment two years ago that no ad business can be built around UGC. But $100 million globally is not very much when you consider that the UK broadcasters alone collectively spend £5 billion a year creating content.
Contrast Eric Schmidt’s honest and self-deprecating comments with the pronouncements from Will.i.am who not only declared that all ad agencies were irrelevant but that TVs were ‘dumb’ (Ooh, look. I took a photo with my iPad!) and that TV was history. Do you think it would be unkind to point out to Mr Will.i.am that he chose to launch his new album in the middle of the Super Bowl, ‘directed’ two TV ads for a website in the Super Bowl ad break, was all over the X Factor last year to promote himself, and fights to get the bands he represents into big TV shows? Has he forgotten all this? Will.i.am is employed by Intel in a creative role, so maybe this is about device manufacture and a corporate line he is forced to follow. If so, they need to know that their rhetoric is about 4 years out of date.
But, if you were forced to choose between them, whose position are you closer to and why? No surprise for guessing who I’d put my money on.