New Stars Are Made As Media Planning Takes Center Stage

Business Week: Media strategists used to rank just above accountants as the kind of people advertisers wanted to meet in the industry. In recent years, however, disdain has been replaced with adulation as the attention spans of consumers have shrunk. With the Internet, ad-skipping digital video recorders (DVRs), video cell phones, and portable music and video players all vying for their attention, consumers are getting harder and harder to track. And that’s putting media strategists on the speed dials of advertisers befuddled by the changing landscape.
Rishad Tobaccowala, chief innovation officer of Starcom MediaVest Group, is of one of the new oracles of Madison Avenue.
Tobaccowala’s message to clients now is that they must get used to being in a permanent state of discomfort. The forces unleashed by tech on the ad world are gaining momentum and leading to ever more unexpected developments. “Blogs and podcasting have gone from ‘What are those?’ to mainstream in less than two years.
He’s less than impressed with some of the supposed solutions offered by others on Madison Avenue. One example: product placements in movies and TV, a common tactic advertisers are using to combat the popularity of DVRs. Tobaccowala dismisses most of them as “lazy” and then adds an expletive that can’t be printed in a family magazine. “The spine of our business has collapsed, and what we are looking at are the organs, blood, and connective tissue on the floor in a pile of goo,” he says. “We have to imagine what the new structure is going to look like.”
Tobaccowala joined Leo Burnett in 1982 immediately after earning an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.