Drexler on Media

By Mike Drexler

There is no substitute for experience. It means living through the events and understanding their consequences, not just hearing about them. When you live through a plethora of situations over time you are instilled with knowledge that cannot be obtained in any other way. After all, how else can you possibly know what people are going through? And you gain a perspective that no one can teach you. Frankly, you can’t beat it.

But one thing is certain. We live in a world of constant change. A perspective from past experiences only helps to guide you for what might occur in the future. It does not provide all of the answers. But it does offer some of the reasons that changes occur and what needs to be done about them. The rest is knowing how to deal with change and often bringing new and different approaches to the best decision making process.

My contributions to this book are intended to help advertisers and agencies make decisions that will build their business in an efficient and profitable way. It attempts to improve and sustain a productive relationship among working partners and offer some points of view on many of the issues that have emerged today and will continue to be addressed in the future.

As a founding Partner and Managing Director of Drexler/Fajen & Partners I have written several opinion pieces designed to help advertisers in the agency search process. Following are 25 articles I believe are most relevant to many of the issues facing the industry today and will be important for advertisers and agencies to consider in the future. Needless to say, as a consultancy we are prepared to advise  clients with a detailed approach on how to conduct an effective agency review or, if possible, repair an existing advertiser/agency relationship to produce the most cost effective results.

Here’s how it all got started for me. My early days at Ogilvy, as the first job out of college, were very disciplined. Sure we had fun, but it was work. Hours that lasted until 11pm or midnight were commonplace.. And David Ogilvy kept a watchful eye on almost everyone. He often referred to me and other guys in the agency as “my dear boy”. That meant he was about to scold us. I rose to EVP Media Director from the youngest VP in the agency. There certainly were some Mad Men episodes along the way, but clients came first and work was the focus of our attention. David Ogilvy knew the accounts he wanted and prepared to get them. In 10 years he got every one.  We learned a lot from him. I knew I wanted a career in media because at every client meeting I was the expert in that tangled lexicon.

Leaving Ogilvy was hard. By when Bill Bernbach called, 13 years later, to tell me he need to boost his agency’s media department to the level of its creative reputation I couldn’t refuse. I did tell him that if that’s what he really wanted I might step on a few toes of his most cherished creatives. He said “go right ahead,” And kept his word. As it turned out, I got along wonderfully with the DDB creative people and they even began to know where the media floor was. More and more media had a seat at the table as I was Worldwide EVP and member of the Board of Directors.

After 12 years a heard from a little know agency (from Omaha) called Bozell which had just merged with Kenyon & Eckhardt to become Bozell, Jacobs. Kenyon & Eckhardt. Their goal was to create a new merged agency seeking the best talent in New York City and asked me to join. They had a unique idea at the time. To bring Hollywood and the advertising industry together and Merv Adelson who ran Telepictures was in charge. What a thrill to help change the industry. To bring movie talent (writers, producers, actors) to television including commercials.  It was a job I couldn’t refuse. After many years, Bozell (now the new name) was acquired by True North that had FCB as their primary agency. I became Chairman of True North Media as we spun off the media department (one of the first) Worldwide EVP of FCB and member of the Board. It is now IPG.

The corporate world was beginning to become more financially driven 11 years later, and the creative side of the business was beginning to lose some of its luster. Holding companies and Wall Street earnings became gospel. I though about retiring until I got a call from Publicis that had just acquired the DeWitt media agency and asked me to come in as CEO, and member of the Board, and bring the media entity into the Publicis organization. That was a new and extraordinary challenge and I did it successfully for 5 years.

I tell you this because I want you to know who I am, what I’ve done and to demonstrate that experience still counts. I have since run an Executive Search firm, and now an Agency Review firm with all the digital knowledge that it brings. It is fast paced and ever changing and that’s what our firm Drexler/Fajen & Partners is ready to offer our clients. We are the experts. We have the experience and the knowledge and we are totally dedicated to each review we handle and its success in building business.

So what does the future hold?  No one knows for sure. But I think there are some trends that provide a snapshot. The digital ecosystem will predominate. Digital media will attract the majority of advertising dollars. Along with it, creative and media will collaborate more effectively. Media buying will be judged not merely by cpm efficiency but by cpe (cost per effectiveness). And that will include KPI’s set by individual advertisers. Automation will prevail because data bases will explode and more consumer insight will be gained. That will improve targeting and reduce waste. Agencies will add services that include content development and analytic marketing strategies and fees will contain both time and performance results. There will be more project assignments rather than all in one retainer based relationships. That also means more suppliers with specialized knowledge whether within the holding company or outside (best in breed will continue to be sought). And finally, the proportion of ad dollars will shift dramatically within the traditional media field. Print will decline substantially, television will be sustained although at lower levels and digital out of home will grow. Radio in its traditional form will also decline. Perhaps just as important, speed in marketing will become essential and real time information will take a front seat. Advertisers alone won’t answer all the needs and consultants will be used on an ad hoc basis. Drexler/Fajen & Partners are ready for the challenges.

The Media Playbook is available on AMAZON