Thursday, August 1, 2013


By Roger Pe

In the past, the stars of ad agencies were the creative people. From their minds, ideas sprung up and became ads we saw, heard, remembered, liked on newspapers, radio and tv sets.

They were called hotshots, had the perks, behaved differently and management gave them fat salaries, and even a lot of leeway for some of their idiosyncrasies.

Some people say, ad agencies won’t survive without them. In the landscape then, media people were in separate departments when those outside the creative department were playing second-fiddle roles.

That was the case until the 90s.

It’s the other way around now - media agencies keep one important thing that creative agencies don’t: the purse strings.

A space literally separates creative and media agencies. Though they may be under one holding company, they do not belong to one roof anymore and function independently of each other.

A media department strategically plans where and when your advertising message should appear and helps you buy the space or airtime to put your message, an almost clerical job.

With the explosion of new media channels, mostly due to advances in digital world, ad agencies needed to have multiple efficiencies, like strategic planning, research, buying clout, social media strength, digital thinking and expertise like content development, mobile media versatility and more.

Today, media departments have evolved beyond their previous definition and have become ‘communications agencies’. They do more than just tell you where to put your message or when to put it.

Mark Pollard, a well-known media blogger and strategy director, puts it more appropriately:

“The trends in media agency world are fascinating. It is trying to do to advertising what Facebook is trying to do to the Internet: Own it.

It is doing production that only creative and digital agencies used to do. It is doing data crunching that only CRM/DM (Customer Relations Marketing/Direct Mail) agencies used to do. It is bringing in creative directors and some are doing brand strategy,“ he says.

The landscape change has made media agencies new stars in their own right, providing not only media but also wholistic communication solutions to marketing problems. They have even metamorphosed into giant global networks.

Among the biggest names are Mindshare, UM (Universal McCann), Zenith, OMD (Omnicom Media) and Starcom, and most of them are present locally.

In the Philippines, Starcom MediaVest Group ranks the biggest. It started operating in Manila in the mid-2000s and has won the pinnacle achievement any media agency could aspire for - the 4A’s Media Agency of the Year, three times in a row.

SMVG’s sweeping victory in last week’s 4As Agency of the Year Awards was very significant for two reasons: it marked the agency’s return to the top of Philippine advertising media, winning the prestigious award for the 4th time and under its new CEO.

“I owe my first grandslam to all my hardworking staff,” says Joanna Mojica, CEO of the resurging media agency that recently bagged the huge Unilab AOR (Agency of Record) business against equally big multinational media networks.

Mojica joined SMG in 2006 with over 15 years of experience in media and advertising agencies like GroupM, Mindshare and JWT Philippines. She steered leading commercial corporations to market leadership, among them The Coca-Cola Export Company.

Business Friday interviews Mojica, advertising budget steward of some of the country’s biggest brands, the woman who talks ‘beauty’ in numbers, market data and graphs, and most importantly, brings in the results.

BF: If I were an advertiser why would I choose Starcom?

JM: “Every agency has its own proprietary tools, we all have our own business philosophies but advertisers should look beyond words splashed over credentials.

At the end of the day, corporate disciplines are just pieces of paper, if you don’t deliver.

If you ask our current clients, we have 100% client retention and I am proud to say that our clients have never left us.

I should say that we are very consistent with every facet of our work. Our proven partnerships with clients are solid.

We do our homework and do it well, whether it’s a competitive landscape, understanding ROI, or having an in-depth grasp of analytics.

We have key knowledge about the best markets, their important demographics, even their competitors and what resonates with their consumers.

Our track record is the only proof. We sparkle like a luminous star because we don’t promise the moon and the stars.”

BF: What is Starcom's point-of-difference against other media companies?

JM: “Because we are part of a global network recognized for media creativity, our standards are high, our momentum never slips.

We are strong collectively and our strength doesn’t lie on one person alone.

Starcom is a showcase of our strength. We are number one and successful because of the value that we give to clients.”

BF: Everyone is talking about digital and social media? Are they really effective, a fad or temporary?

JM: “They are your auto-audience and there is so much to unravel in digital advertising, specially on social media.

They’re changing people’s behavior so fast that you cannot ignore the tremendous opportunity to explore and utilize them to reach consumers and market brands at lightning speed.

They are so effective that in seconds, millions of people get to know who you are, what you are, what you did, what’s new, what’s in, what’s happening, what’s currently in vogue, wherever you are in the world in real time. Embrace it or be totally left out.”

BF: What do you see in Philippine advertising a few years from now?

JM: “Today, digital is only one of the many supporting media arteries. Tomorrow, everything will be different. All traditional media will revolve around it and advertisers will call it the Muscle Media.”

The more incisive media agencies will focus more on consumers. I personally believe that the best way to reach the masses is through agencies like us with deeper understanding of the market.

It will save us from being left in the dust by the constant technological advances that produce new forms of media.”

BF: What’s your management style?

JM: “I am like a sponge. I utilize the skill of a great leader – the power of listening.

The more people talk, the more I listen. When it’s time for me to talk, I have perfect knowledge and grasp of the big picture.

I may not know all the answers but I think, this is the best way to approach a situation.

The simple act of listening can change people’s behavior. When you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole, not only part of it.”

BF: How do you work as a boss?

JM: “For me, no single day is the same so I don’t function the same.

We live in an industry with a complex environment. I live within the dynamism of that environment. Where media partners come in different sizes and shapes, I adjust to them and become like them.

I love to unlock a person’s fullest potential. It challenges me to really listen and be a catalyst, know what a person’s passion, and to be able to help him or her become successful.

I value relationships because, here, you learn so much about life. We may quarrel but we’ll always come back to each other, learning from each other in more ways than one.

Who I am is a collective 20 years of experience of having worked with the best in the industry. I was shaped by the good and positive sides of all my mentors, I learned from every single of them.”

BF: Who is Joaana Mojica outside of the office?

JM: “I catch up being a mom whenever I am home. I consider going to a supermarket heaven.

My family is a source of strength and an important part of my being. Many facets of myself revolve around my family.

Last July 26, at the 4A’s Agency of the Year Awards, SMVG brought home three awards: the Best in Business Performance, Best in Media Creativity and proclaimed Media Agency of the Year, for delivering significant benefits to clients amidst an ever-changing media environment.