Media Blogged

A trip down Print Street

The latest example of agencies opening their doors to collaboration and shared ownership came with Starcom MediaVest Group's Print Street celebration earlier this month. MediaVest's managing director Steve Parker reports.


We always wanted Print Street to be a collaborative experience, accommodating magazines and newsbrands in their own habitats, from a ‘Bingo Hall’ to a ‘Papped room’ with Will and Kate lookalikes.The ‘Newsroom’ consisted of all the brands collaboratively working together; dishing out quizzes, cupcakes and enticing everyone with their very snazzy photo booth.  

The event was held over two days and incorporated lots of fun and innovative ways to get participants interested.

Heineken was one of the clients that found the event very beneficial, saying:  "Thanks so much for putting on Print Street last week it was a really informative and great fun afternoon. The thing that really stood out for me is how the print owners are integrating digital advancements into their offering which is something I'm keen we explore as part of our 2014 plan".

Print Street involved 30 media partners, more than 300 agency and client attendees and 40 themed  experiences ranging from football, nail bars, golf, cycling, gossip, royalty, Oxygen Bar, tea parties, £d Printing, Editor talks.

It is the latest physical partner experience created by @SMG_London. Lets be clear, many other agencies are working hard to constantly expose their talent and their clients to the dynamic offerings of media partners and these efforts must be applauded. Every agency in town is more open than ever before.

My feeling is that at SMG we have gone a little further a little quicker and a little more consistently than others. This is neither right or wrong but is rapidly becoming a natural part of our culture. 

As illustrated by #smvprintstreet our desire for partnership extends beyond our clients to our media vendor partners. We recognise that in a world of communications, which is full of rapid and consistent change, one person or one business cannot and does not know everything. Amidst this change, marketing organisations require an agency partner around them that they trust – more than ever before.

The reality of today’s world, where real, actionable consumer insight is more valuable than ever, media owners have to be closer to the communication planning process. They are the audience experts or their business dies. 

The traditional adversarial, commoditised relationship can no longer be the driver for conversations – to be clear intelligent, transparent and aggressive negotiation must flow through every conversation – the opportunity is to shift the centre of gravity to a more collaborative point.

Importantly, many of our client partners recognise this and encourage and at SMG we certainly do and we are developing a reputation for being the most progressive, open and collaborative agency in town.

#smvprintstreet was a first for the print industry and brought many brands  together literally for the first time but it was not our first time. Twice a year we hold a partnership conference with over 150 media owners. We share ideas, have debates and we even buy them a drink.

At least once a quarter we run a unique, award winning Client Experience Day – the two most recent being for Heineken and Procter & Gamble respectively. The full, multi-channel teams for each client - on average 40 people, alongside numerous client partners welcome up to 60 selected media partners to  experience specifically designed rooms for a range of client brands. 

Our partners get to fully immerse themselves in the businesses and brands they have been trying to sell to for so long. The sessions are informal but informative and driven by Q&A and debate. The output is not "can we have a big idea please", it is based around the knowledge that allowing these partners to understand more will improve how we all work and what we all produce all to the benefit our clients.

Finally, everyday we have at least one media owner working flexibly from our offices – the only agency in London to do this – you can’t get more collaborative than that.

As @ADHumle recently published on @TheSocialCMO blog – Moving from closed, self-sufficient and proprietary to social, open and collaborative is a key change required by businesses. We are changing the dynamic and welcome partners and clients to join us at events like Print Street.

Steve Parker is managing director of MediaVest London

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