A major media agency has become the second in a month to abandon individual departmental planning specialisms.
BJK&E, whose major clients include the Financial Times and Daimler Chrysler, this week underwent a major restructure, which will see its planners leave behind individual mediums to be retrained as multimedia operators.
Announcing the changes, joint managing director Tim Irwin claimed specialist TV buyers were becoming "outmoded".
The change follows a similar move by agency giant Carat, which reorganised its operations three weeks ago. Multimedia operators will now replace single media specialists.
The gathering pace of the trend marks a challenge to agencies that continue to compartmentalise their planning.
Irwin said: "As the role of the television within the media mix becomes more complex, it is ever more crucial that television's role and the relationship with the TV contractors are not distanced from the rest of the planning and buying process.
"All too often, specialist TV buyers are prone to a form of 'Stockholm Syndrome' where they are more concerned about the intricacies of the TV trading system than the fundamentals of their clients' business."
Steve Hobbs, broadcast director at Carat, said: "Clients are looking for more strategic focus and consumer insight, and the more a planner or buyer knows about each medium, the more we as an agency can offer to the client. What we are doing is creating more rounded media professionals with a broader role."
But the shift was not welcomed by all.
Steve Williams, managing director of OMD UK, said: "We think specialisms are important.
How you build a company structure is dependent on the scale of your business and the philosophy you have in servicing and dealing with your clients."
And television buying in particular could suffer, some feared.
The UK television trading system is well known to be one of the most complex of all media disciplines, with prices being set based on time of day and GRPs (gross rating points).
Edward Lloyd Barnes, managing director of agency The ComFederation, said: "I think it's a good thing for the future of the business to have multimedia specialists, but I'm not sure if it is workable in a major agency."
But as multimedia deals become more prevalent with the likes of Emap, Viacom and Scottish Media Group now cross-media players, the opportunities for cross-platform deals are increasing.
George Michaelides, managing partner of Michaelides & Bednash, said: "One single person needs to control all of the planning otherwise you don't have a strategy. It's fundamental. If you do just TV, then you end up with a TV plan and there's no media strategy in that."
Viacom Plus, Viacom's new cross-selling media division, has signed an ad deal with Heinz for which the media owner has developed both the media strategy and creative across all of its platforms.
The £3.5m deal through agency Starcom Motive to launch the manufacturer's new frozen Bite Me range is the biggest example yet of media owners getting closer to their own assets to produce broad cross-media solutions for brands in one deal.
Paul Curtis,Viacom Brand Solutions managing director, claimed: "This is the first campaign to encapsulate both media, marketing channels and the creative across so much media - we've done everything on this."
Viacom has produced 26 television ad executions for the Heinz campaign, as well as the creative for other channels including posters and video advertising, thus cutting out the need for a creative advertising agency.
Andy Roberts, executive buying director at Starcom Motive, said: "It's different to other cross media deals because it ties in more with all of Viacom's assets and goes a lot further.
They've really pushed the boundaries.
"It's made something possible that would not be possible - you'd never be able to make 26 commercials for a deal of this size."
The deal is the first for Viacom Plus, which was created by Viacom last month to offer advertisers opportunities beyond spot advertising and across all of its media properties, including MTV and Nickelodeon, Viacom Outdoor London Underground slots, UCI and Showcase cinemas and Blockbuster Videos.
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