Media Execs See Tough Times Ahead

NEW YORK Commenting on the general mind-set of his agency’s clients in the current tough economic climate, Jack Klues, a managing partner of Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi, recounted advice his own financial advisor gave him last week: “‘Don’t take any rash actions.’ That’s where our clients are right now.”


As for ad spending in 2009, Klues said he expects many clients to change their media mix in a bid to make “a relatively fixed amount of dollars work harder.” Brand values may need to be expressed in different ways, he said. “From the consumer perspective, clients need to get the right messages in front of people.”

Klues’ comments came during an Advertising Week “Leadership Conversation” here on Monday.

At the same session, Wenda Harris Millard, media president and co-CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, sounded a sobering note about the current economy and its impact. The Wall Street meltdown and ensuring credit crunch will have “pretty severe implications for medium-sized and smaller businesses and consumers,” she said.

Cheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook, said that if the mortgage crisis continues and many more people lose their homes, “I think every [advertising] category will get hit.” That said, she also believes there is an opportunity for digital, which, she claimed, commands about 28 percent of consumer usage and only about 10 percent of the share of total ad dollars.

But when it comes to online media versus offline media, “It’s not an either/or situation, but what’s the best way to drive an idea,” said Laura Klauberg, svp, global media, Unilever. Klauberg noted, for example that the company’s Dove “Real Beauty” campaign from two years ago “was launched with billboards.”

Millard said the key for marketers is to “connect intelligently with consumers.”

A year from now, said Klues, “We won’t be talking about analog versus digital or maybe even channels at all. It’s all digital. What we’re trying to do is identify by audience, whether it’s new mothers or dog owners wherever they are.”