jewin' the fat

Marketing Magic or Mischief?
January 18, 2010, 4:02 PM
Filed under: Comment, media | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Sometimes the media can surprise you. Not the usual sort of surprise – the kind that can incense the masses, cause mass-letter writing and clog the 1800-complaint services servers.

No, I’m talking about the kind of surprise demands a sharp inhalation of anxiety, and then, in an unusual turn, dissipates, only to cause the expelling of  calm and quandary. What on earth was – Did I just witness that ? Could it be that our darling media, with their infinite faults and foibles, are … somehow … with it?

See for yourself.  

As the abstract explains “Sky TV takes embedded journalism one step further with “West Bank”, a television commercial working with the concept, “Let the news speak for itself”. We’re taken to a Palestinian protest against Israel’s latest offensive, where the participants in the conflict give us their perspective on what’s happening …

Grab from Sky TV's advertisement

Created by a New Zealand company, DDB Auckland, it is quite simply, a stunning success in television News advertising – which has always placed more emphasis on the medium over the message – take for example the example Joris Lyundjek provides in ‘Fit to Print’, reprinted for ABC Unleashed here, where he recounts the impossibility of reporting the facts without the images – “After all, you tell the story with images — so it’s quite logical that if you don’t have an image, you don’t have a story.”

According to Sally Young from the University of Melbourne, this kind of advertising is a means to reverse the trend of young people searching for news content away from traditional media forms (Broadsheet, TV, Radio) – essentially making the argument that Sky News (The most watched cable TV News channel in Australia) has just as much to offer, if not more than online. And considering 48 per cent of Sky News viewers are over Fifty, it needed to make a compelling point. Which this advert does.
From a purely Marketing perspective, it is a fantastic strategy, especially considering a 30-sec spot in the middle-to-end of the news bulletin is not the most informative or effective tool of disseminating information. But TV is where a large proportion of people retrieve their understanding of their world, and in this case, the Israel-Palestinian conflict – 1 in 2 people in Australia own a TV.
So ‘moral flexibility’ aside, the real question is how effective will this campaign be in creating new viewers, or holding on to ratings for the channel? Created by a Kiwi company, it clearly has a local insight and a strong grasp of the needs and opinions of New Zealanders (would this kind of campaign work in the US or UK I wonder?), but it does raise some interesting points about TV news in general – or at least what has lacked in TV news.

Old men in Khaki reporting from Hotel bedrooms and cocktail lounges no longer suffice, when you have Chinese students blogging about human rights atrocities in Beijing, Burmese feeding up-to-the-minute reports on riots to traditional news media or Iranians tweeting photos of Basji attacks.

The ongoing division and revision of media is what this particular advert  is about. Media. Not Israel and Palestine – but the use of the conflict to market a media product. The point isn’t that Sky may or may not change it’s modus operandi – it’s about selling the promise that it doesn’t need to. It may not be smart journalism, and it is generally accepted that  TV isn’t exactly the place for smart journalists any more – but it is clever advertising, and that’s what counts.


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