It’s a truth acknowledged that behind every formidable media agency is a fiercely powerful buyer. And yet until recently while most advertising and marketing people would know the CEO of a media agency, few of them would have been able to name the all powerful buyers. We were told that they were too resistant in making us know their thoughts or plans and would rather steer clear of the media. But Brand Equity does not take ‘no’ for an answer.
This power packed line up of buyers on display has essential characteristic traits, smarts, and creativity that has put them on top of the heap. From the very seasoned heads who have changed the way media is traded in the country to a sharp new generation of heads who combine old school ferocity with new age language, this is one powerful elite force. Despite starkly different styles, if there is one thing both the old and the relatively newer ones agree upon, it is that media buyers are no longer merely media operations people doubling up as buyers.
It’s only in recent years the role of a media buyer within agencies itself has got new meaning, and due recognition. Less than a decade ago, media buying moved from being an isolated backend operation to one that was integrated very strongly with planning. Today, slowly but steadily it’s moving from a mere designation to a function as media agencies lay more stress on the job. Agencies are beginning to take responsibility and not leaving it to individuals to deliver great buys. The role itself has moved from a mere rate driven function, to one that requires a unique creative bent too, rather than merely chalking out conventional strategies.
Media buying is now undergoing an overhaul and although relationships are still critical. Times are changing with a new media world demanding buyers who are methodical and analytical, who know how to mix data, creativity, judgment, intuition and relationships to dish out that winning cocktail.
They all have their individual manner of handling the circuit indeed. Despite tense situations some remain unruffled and cool others are firebrands with reputes to match. One of the buying world’s most powerful forces flexing muscle across media has about two decades of experience under her belt and relationships with media owners that are deeply entrenched.
The buyer says he is more than fine with that tag, as long as the job gets done and done well. They are the likes of P&G or Cadbury or even media sellers who swear by her.
The important thing is to grow client businesses, so that they become super sized rather than go looking for super sized accounts.
The younger bunch are not interested in first getting the simple basics right. Talking about basics, Crasto’s training started when he was just a kid. His mother who was in the catering business would send him to shop for groceries. She would tell him ‘I need 50 kilos of onions and I’ll pay you Re 1 per kilo,’ if I manage to get the load cheaper, she would let me keep the profit. That’s where I started.” Back then, he tells us, media people visited remote markets, traveled with vendors and visited printing presses. One doesn’t see that nowadays. No one knows the media they are buying. By default or design, everything tends to become transactional. But more importantly your buying ability or clout should not be determined by the budget or the client you handle.
While some buyers might be products of the old ways, others still relatively newer in the role, are changing the rules of the game, paving new ways and scripting new plans. UK telco major Vodafone’s launch in India, might not have the profile of some of the others in the list, but he is certainly got the clout. In this business
One cannot rely on past glories. It is not about rate negotiation, it’s about creating media assets. And as hard times get harder media will have to get more personal. A former banker turned media-man has tight relationships with clients such as Britannia meant that after a brief spell elsewhere in the past he was asked to come back by the client.
Buyers need not be the loudest or most aggressive people in a room. They must have passion and the ability to think long term and that’s the universal approach. The role is not restricted to just media buying and lowering costs anymore, but to tie-up strategic alliances with other brands, media houses and choosing relevant partners is essential.