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Celebrate Better
Tom DenfordJun 2, 2023 12:52:12 AM4 min read

Celebrate Better

Brands Deserve Better Media

A weekly column from @tomjdenford


Why we must celebrate what’s good today instead of always seeking what’s next.



Almost all of the questions that we’ve been asked by marketers over the last 10 years center around very similar challenges, frustrations and fears and (as I shared with you last week) they always contain the same dreaded word, some implicitly, most explicitly. Change…


Some things change, but most things don't. 



Surprise! No change. 

It's my dad’s 80th birthday today. I flew from New York to London this week to surprise him as I hadn't seen him for six months (and for two pandemic years before that). I miss being able to sit and talk about his boat, stare at the sea, enjoy some wine and peruse his bookshelves. He was fifty when I turned eighteen - we did karaoke together - and now in a blink, it's me approaching fifty so I’m bracing myself that eighty (should I be so lucky) is a corner that comes quickly on this autobahn of life. I’m glad I can surprise him, also sad that seeing me should even be a surprise. 


The world has changed a lot in those thirty years. And my god, don't we talk about it a lot too? The advertising industry thrives on disruption and change, or more specifically the Terrifying Pace of Change™ which has become the currency of fear aimed at the well-meaning marketer, apologetically just trying to build a brand amongst all this chaos. 



Celebrate Better 

Last week I was lucky to be part of the final judging for this year’s Festival of Media. The global awards contained a new category this year the ‘ID Comms Better Media Practice Award’ which we created in partnership with the great Festival team. The aim of the award is to identify the very best media ideas of the year that had consciousness built-in, by design.


This new award category for 2023 will recognize the progress we are making as an industry and celebrate those committed to delivering a better quality media outcome for the brands we love. The award looks to celebrate those in the media industry who are striving to make media better for brands, improve the marketer experience and make a positive impact in the world.


Better media practice is really driven by the idea that we are all in service of brands. Maybe that doesn’t sound very revolutionary, but yet we do have to remind ourselves that in the media industry; we are working to build brands. Otherwise media becomes a robotic financial engineering exercise. We're all in service of the brands we love and our consumers love brands; that's one thing we can all agree on.



The future comes slowly, then all at once. 

The Festival of Media award winners were announced last night at a glitzy ceremony in London. The three medal-winning entries (yes two golds and one bronze, that’s not a typo) showed how smart insights, sensible application of data and some nifty craft in media planning can be good for brands and good for the world too. 


It was all impressive work. We had nine brands in the final judging representing companies whose activities may tend to gather more attention on sustainability and equity; automotive, foods, technology, and finance. 



Winners: Volvo, McDonald’s & Tyson Foods


GOLD: Volvo (Australia) “Driving Down Carbon Emissions in Digital Media”

Volvo’s carbon neutral goal requires some sophisticated analysis of their supply chain impact. This wor enabled the brand to plan media to maximize communications impact whilst minimizing environmental impact. Creating a new currency in advertising in a trial that can be scaled to other markets and other brands. 


GOLD: McDonald’s (Germany) “Plastic Kicks the Bucket”

As part of McDonald’s global drive to reduce and then eliminate plastic from their business and supply chain, the media team devised a ‘plastic-free media vendors’ charter to use for local campaign planning. 


BRONZE: Tyson Foods (USA) “The Impact Index”

A collaboration with the AI team at the University of Colorado, to enable domain-level decisions on page-level data, creating a framework for media that prioritized media placement in real time around positive content for the Black community and avoided negative content that risked enforcing racial stereotypes.  



“To improve is to change…”

The awards showed me that we are definitely improving as an industry. We judged amazing work from around the world: Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, UK, USA, and Vietnam. I hope in the coming years this category will become a kind of bellwether for how well we are taking our wider responsibilities as an industry, often preached on conference stages but often lacking substantive action. 


Winston Churchill said “To improve is to change. To be perfect is to change often”. Whilst our industry is far from perfect, we see positive change. In contrast, as far as I can tell, my dad hasn't changed one bit in the thirty years between his fiftieth and eightieth birthdays. Yet in my view he’s perfect; a humble, intelligent, goofy and kind man that I can merely aspire to be. Happy birthday, Dad. 


Remember, brands deserve better media. When brands get the media they deserve they grow.


When brands grow, we all win.




This post was featured in ID Comms’ weekly column, Brands Deserve Better Media. Each week, CEO Tom Denford shares insights on media and advertising and inspires us to work together to build a better future for the industry.

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