Almost 30 years ago the late Dr Simon Broadbent approached me to help him write a new edition of a book he had first published some 15 years before. `Spending Advertising Money' had originally appeared when Simon was Leo Burnett's Media Director; by the early 1980's he had moved to focus more on research and systems. So he needed a media guy to help him update the book. I must have been passing his office.
Fast forward to today, and Hamish Pringle and Jim Marshall have published their book `Spending Advertising Money in the Digital Age'. They generously state that the title of their book is `in homage' to our 1984 effort. That's very kind of them, but really I would say that theirs is a greater achievement. The media world today is a very different place, and the pace of change is extraordinary. As Hamish said at the launch event, the media of today is analogous to a fast-flowing river. Consumers enter the river whenever suits them, and for however long. The role of the planner is to plan the intercepts between the consumer and the media.
Furthermore, the media world is a far more interesting place than it was in the 1980's, and thus of interest to a much broader constituency. We wrote a rather earnest book, for the industry and academia. Hamish and Jim have written a far more accessible book - with cartoons, pictures, and contributors from the media themselves. I wish we had thought of that last one - we ponderously ploughed through each media form; Jim and Hamish have persuaded those who know the media best to enthuse about them.
We were writing about media planning, research and buying. They are writing about the broad media industry, indeed they plan to issue an online addendum on News International and the phone hacking scandal.
Hamish and Jim have done the industry a huge service in writing their book. The industry could do itself a huge service by reading it, and by getting back to one basic principle: to use their skills to identify the people most likely to buy something, and then use the appropriate channels in the most effective manner to get them to buy it. That's why agencies used to be full of planner/buyers; today there seem to be lots of buyers/justifiers.
I've been asked if this book is a `worthy successor' to the one Simon Broadbent and I wrote all those years ago. To steal a quote from that great planner Kevin Keegan in the new book, `It's much the same...except it's completely different'. I would go further; Hamish and Jim set out to produce a book for today, and they've succeeded superbly.