Promotional Themes Drive Most Advertising Campaigns. So Why Don't Major Media Companies Focus More On Major Promotional Agencies? - Steve Blacker - MediaBizBloggers

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Cover image for  article: Promotional Themes Drive Most Advertising Campaigns. So Why Don't Major Media Companies Focus More On Major Promotional Agencies? - Steve Blacker - MediaBizBloggers

1. Major advertisers spend more dollars below the line on promotion then they do on above the line advertising expenditures. Promotional themes often drive the creative and media buys for advertising.

2. Seasonal promotions happen every year yet does any media company call ahead of time on the key promotional agencies that help clients create these themes? Or come to them with ideas?

3. Promotion can range from in-store special events, dealer meetings, premiums, contests whatever. Advertisers are constantly looking for new promotional ideas. The PMAA (Promotion Marketing Association of America) has annual meetings that key client promotion and marketing executives attend along with promotion agencies. How many media companies attend these meetings?

4. A few classic examples of how promotion can drive advertising: Hanes Hosiery laughed when Ken Marks the Time Magazine sales rep called on them to advertise in Time back in 1970. While Time had some female readership it had never ever carried any advertising targeted to them; especially from a fashion advertiser. But when Ken showed them a dummy TDI poster for the missing I Time outdoor campaign with a women's leg as the missing I wearing Hanes Hosiery -- with the headline "Where Hanes Gets Its Leg Up On The Competition" Hanes responded: "How many pages do we have to buy to get that poster into all our retail accounts?" The answer was easy. Ken sold them a major schedule. And Hanes used Time's prestige to impress all its retail accounts and gain key window displays and in store promotions using then TDI poster.

5. When I was Publisher of Inc. Magazine back in 1990 GM was running no pages because our syndicated research numbers were so bad. Regardless of how hard I tried to explain that owners of fast growing small companies were the least likely to participate in any survey - they just didn't have the time - I could not sell a page to GM. Then one day a promotion agency from Detroit called me and asked if I would be willing to come out to see to them to discuss a promotional idea they were working on for Pontiac Regional Dealer Meetings that were coming up. That year Pontiac had no new models to introduce so they needed more programming for the dealer meetings. The agency wanted to know if I had any ideas on what they could do since Inc. was a magazine for fast growing small companies and their dealers were akin to that.

6. I suggested we empower the dealers by having the CEO's of some of Inc.'s more successful fast growing small companies share the secrets for their business growth with them and have our editor act as the moderator. We could also solicit questions from dealers in advance of the meetings. And I suggested we hire a motivational speaker i.e. Fran Tarkenton the former New York Giant quarterback.

7. The promotion agency loved the idea and asked if I could come with them to meet with Pontiac's General Manager right then. I did and when the Pontiac General Manager asked if I had any ideas on how to promote the event ahead of time to their almost 30,000 dealers I had a quick response. Why not send them all copies of Inc. Magazine with a cover wrap promoting the event starting as soon as possible. When I said I could get them a bulk rate for the subs the General Manager stated he did not care what it cost.

8. He then asked me if Pontiac advertised in Inc.? I told him no. He asked me, "Wouldn't it be a good idea for Pontiac to buy a spread in every issue of Inc. to help promote this?" Of course I agreed. He had the agency buy twenty four pages and with that leverage and a few other ideas GM became a 100+ page account. And the dealer response to the Inc. presentations was so good we repeated it the following year even though Pontiac now had new models.

9. I could cite many more examples. What I find curious is that today it is much more difficult to get to see people at traditional ad agencies and advertising executives at the client. And while traditional agencies ask for "added value" i.e. promotion they have no budgets to ever pay for this.

10. So...why don't major media companies start cultivating and calling more on promotion agencies and promotion executives at the client? And join the PMAA (Promotion Marketing Association of America)? Regardless of where most major client advertising may run; TV, print, on-line, apps, wherever; there is most likely going to be promotion behind it both to consumers and the trade.

Steve's new book You Can't Fall Off The Floor - The Insiders' Guide to Re-Inventing Yourself and Your Career chronicles his 50 year career working for over 25 different companies with 189 lessons learned and insider tips from Gayle King, Cathie Black, Chuck Townsend and 28 others; Blacker is still going strong today as a partner in Frankfurt & Blacker Solutions, LLC. His web site is and e-mail address is

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