The ugly ratio of creative to media spend

In a new client meeting last week the subject of creative to media spend ratio came up and I almost fell off my chair. It’s not to say that this isn’t still quite a common element of agency-client conversation but the context was extraordinary.

This is usually a topic that we see bandied about by agency selection consultants, old-media agencies or the enemy of all creativity the procurement group. But depending on how the conversation goes, this may be quite a nice way to gauge maturity of an audience, first in marketing (and here I mean BTL and direct vs advertising) and secondly in digital and interactive – but be warned, just as the rule of thumb for spend was potentially right back then, this new rule of thumb for client maturity has its shortcomings too.

For those that are still thinking a 15/85 or 30/70 split is the norm, let me just say that the marketing mix has changed since you last put together a budget… and probably a few more times since then. Gone are the days of big TV productions consuming all the budget, running for months on end and a few print ads thrown in for good measure. Today with the advent of time consuming production on channels like websites and POS with little or no media costs, and the comparably low cost of online media compared to print, TV and radio – it is critical to understand the media strategy before starting to allocate budget.

It may well be true that a 100% TV campaign would fit the 20/80 ratio, and also that a new microsite using Facebook plugins would be closer to 100/0… I’ll let you do the maths.

So just maybe, I’ll stop advocating to cut them off when I hear these rules of thumb, and I’ll wait for the answer – it may well be worth cutting off the heads when we hear it!

Lex Bradshaw-Zanger

A digital native and integrated brand marketer with a passion for marketing-communications and product design, Lex has a truly international outlook and experience, having worked both in major marketing agencies and client-side brands across Europe, the US and the Middle East.

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