Continental hosts media guru Hamish Pringle

At Continental Conversations, this morning (1 March), at the Maslow Hotel in Sandton, media guru, Hamish Pringle, shared insights about fly fishing and how to plan the ideal channel and content mix, with advertising and media professionals. Pringle has graced South African shores courtesy of Continental Outdoor Media and also launched his fifth book,  ‘Spending Advertising Money in the Digital Age – How to Navigate the Media Flow’ (co-authored with Jim Marshall of Aegis Media) officially in South Africa this week.

Pringle, the former Director General of the UK based IPA (Institute for Practitioners in Advertising) for ten years,  unpacked valuable concepts at Continental Conversations, such as the intertwined ‘life flow’ and ‘media flow’ and how media strategists and planners can effectively place their brand in the ‘media flow’ taking into consideration the ‘IPA TouchPoints’.

The presentation began using the analogy of fly fishing: the advertiser, as the metaphorical ‘fly fisherman’, must have the right bait for the right ‘fish’ (the consumer) in right place at right time. Pringle shared an anecdote about his unsuccessful attempts at fly fishing during his school days in Scotland and how he could not understand why the fish were not lured by his flies, which were clearly “things of beauty”!

“Years later I read a magazine article written by someone who had taken photographs from the beneath the surface of the water, looking up as if he were a fish, to see what the insects landing on the water looked like. It looked nothing like the flies we used to tie! It turns out that it’s the little dimples created by the feet of the insect on the surface of the water that fish have evolved to spot and that’s what attracts them. If it’s not stretching the analogy too far, I think sometimes we regard our media as things of beauty and we don’t spend enough time looking at them from the customer point of view,” commented Pringle.

The ‘IPA TouchPoints’ research is aimed at understanding the consumption habits of the ‘fish’ and casting the ideal ‘fly’ at the right moment.  It asks respondents to record for every half-hour that they are awake: where they are, who they are with, what they’re doing, what media they are exposed to and what mood they’re in. This provides an enormous amount of data, on top of that generated by a lengthy recruitment questionnaire.  It can be fused with other media research to give a really detailed understanding of the inter-relationships between people, media and brands. Pringle commented: “The beauty of ‘TouchPoints’ is that you can see which the most used media are at which time of day.”

‘TouchPoints’ confirms the importance of out-of-home (OOH) at 24% of adult daily media consumption, second only to TV. Pringle said: “We can also see that OOH is the strongest medium throughout the day – only radio at drive time and TV in the evening beat it.   OOH performs really well in terms of audience reach and as digital screens come on-stream, the power of the medium can only increase.”

A granular analytical tool like ‘TouchPoints’ is very useful, but also very complex and its use can be simplified by using the ‘media flow’ concept to understand the current media landscape and how the consumer moves between buying and not buying throughout the day. Pringle commented, “The sheer availability of the traditional media such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines and of course outdoor, plus the new digital technologies and devices such as mobile phones and tablets or indeed digital outdoor screens, enables people to engage with media in a way they never could before.”

Consumers can step in and out of the media flow at will and advertisers must navigate this flow when placing their brands strategically within it. He continued: “So we need to think of the plethora of media options as representing a whole series of fishermen’s flies. There has been a dramatic increase in the availability of media, people are living within a multimedia world and are more mobile. This benefits OOH, but of course the competition from other media is intensifying, as they too adopt digital and mobile platforms.”

Pringle then explained the F.A.I.P.A. (Fame, Advocacy, Information, Price and Availability) model that evolved from the IPA Effectiveness Awards, and can be used to select the ideal media mix in communications planning. OOH scores highest on fame, followed by availability, then information, price and lastly advocacy. Advocacy is now being introduced into OOH in innovative ways.

Pringle continued: “Here’s a clever idea which only went up earlier in February in Gauteng. The Bells Man of Character Continental billboard campaign encourages consumers to nominate, by SMS, the names of the unsung heroes in their lives who could then get their name up in ‘neon lights’ on  huge billboards. They can metaphorically ‘give a man a Bells’.”

Media planning and budget setting is a sophisticated analytical process and in order ‘to catch more fish’, win share of market (SOM), either the brand needs to ‘cast more lines’, invest in extra share of voice (ESOV), or ‘tie better flies’,  increase effectiveness through creativity.

Pringle commended Continental’s Doom campaign for its creative impact: a poster for Doom insecticide in Braamfontein, a collage made from different colour shoes to recreate the pack design and communicate that Doom is far more effective at killing bugs than smacking them with a flip-flop!Barry Sayer, Adelaide McKelvey and Hamish Pringle at Continental Conversations 3-1-2013 10-22-10 AM.10


At the end of a riveting talk, Pringle concluded, that drawing on over thirty years of cases from the IPA effectiveness awards (similar to APEX awards here) a ‘gold standard’ was created that proves that advertising works and that an increase in share of voice (SOV), particularly in recessionary times is correlated to an increased share of market (SOM).  But, the effectiveness of a campaign is intrinsically linked to creativity and strategic planning, to achieve the ideal channel and content mix in the digital age. The expert fly fisherman will know which fly to tie and exactly when and where to cast his line, while enjoying the great outdoors!

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