Column: Tite’s take on 2013

What will win out? Content, shock, Tribal DDB and McDonald’s Canada So here we are. After eating too many “Quality Streets,” watching too many World Junior hockey games and shoveling too much snow, you’re probably ready to leap into 2013 with a fresh perspective and five extra pounds. What can you look forward to? Well, […]

What will win out? Content, shock, Tribal DDB and McDonald’s Canada

So here we are. After eating too many “Quality Streets,” watching too many World Junior hockey games and shoveling too much snow, you’re probably ready to leap into 2013 with a fresh perspective and five extra pounds.

What can you look forward to? Well, this:

Content partnerships will rule

On one hand, there are more media opportunities than ever before as specialty networks, web video, and content marketing explode. On the other, the big players are investing heavily in media convergence and consolidation. So what’ll it be?

Truthfully, Canada just doesn’t have the population to justify a ton of brand specific media properties. Content WILL rule but the most effective path to content marketing north of the border will be through partnerships. Brands will partner with media companies and with each other, and we’ll see more interest-focused platforms opposed to brand focused platforms. Why? Because we have to. It would be nice if we could all be Red Bull but we can’t. There aren’t enough eyeballs and there isn’t enough budget to create stand alone properties in the true north strong and never free.

McDonald’s (and Tribal DDB) will win every major advertising prize

Were there more beautifully shot commercials? Yup. Were there better scripts? You bet. Still, advertising has changed and no initiative embraced the new way to communicate with consumers more than “Our Food. Your Questions.” Sometimes, an epic commercial with a cast of thousands and a budget to match can do wonders for a business. But it’s not a huge intellectual leap to make. This campaign was different in every way and showed us that transparent dialogue with consumers trumps all. Here’s hoping it’s acknowledged accordingly.

The Advertising Testimonial Will Be Redefined

Ahhh, testimonials. You’ve never seen an infomercial without them. Tune in and you can see people shot in their natural environment coached to say strategically relevant soundbites delivered with a performance matched only by Palmerston Public School’s production of West Side Story. With so many honest and genuine testimonials generated through various social media platforms, scripting testimonials isn’t only outdated, it’s ineffective. Let’s hope brands start getting it right.

Prepare to be Offended

There’s a lot of clutter. Blah, blah. You’ve heard it before. But combine that difficulty of cutting through with the financial realities of traditional media and the success of their alternative counterparts and I think you’ll start to see edgier communications from the historically conservative.

The photo and headline from this provocative Time cover caused quite a stir, didn’t it? The complaints flew in from the shocked masses…but so did sales. It was one of the best selling issues of the year and doubled the usual weekly subscription rates. Same goes for the Bloomberg love-fest. And it’s not just covers. Like the regular F-bombs of the Drunk Jays Fans blog? Well, they’re now available through The Score, a traditional outlet now owned by Rogers.

Like never before, it pays to grab our attention. Watch out, 2013. You’re about to be grabbed and depending on your sensitivities, it might hurt. (For the record, I love it. Bring it on.)

Canadian Shopping Becomes Supreme

It doesn’t really matter whether you shop virtually or traditionally, I think this is the year that Canadian retailers start to get it right. As a group, they’ve been pretty slow to adopt e-commerce platforms but Target shows up in March, Walmart is rapidly expanding and hopefully, the entire industry ups their game with compelling communications and e-savvy experiences to compete. Sears has started a re-brand (don’t really like it but anything is better than repetitive Sears Days), Canadian Tire has a new spokesperson, and Canada Post is doing some pretty interesting things to help everyone fulfill more profitably.

What’s in store? Hopefully, success.

Repurposing Events as Ads

Budweiser’s Flash Fans. Coke’s 007 Stunt. Volkswagen’s Fun Theory. Tropicana’s Arctic Sun. And the “TNT’s” Push to Add Drama. For the past several years, we’ve seen a lot of live events that have been experienced by a few only to re-purposed for many as ads from the brands. As consumers push for more authentic experiences and communications and as brands become more heavily invested in online brand channels, this trend will certainly continue. We’ll see even more of it in 2013. What will see less of? The “Gleeification” of advertising with singing flash mobs dancing and prancing their way across our multiple screens. One can hope.

Media agencies get it

Every time I speak to a pure media company with networks, magazines, radio stations, or even blogs for sale, I get the same hushed conversation with a promise never to repeat it. “How do we get around the media agencies to speak directly to the creative people?”

Media agencies can be the biggest barrier to new thinking and better work. But it’s not their fault.

With media commissions at ridiculously low levels, media agencies have had to staff their accounts with young people and have piled more accounts on to their plates. Better thinking requires time for meetings and discussions. Why invest in that when checking CARD for standards rates lets you move on to the next project?

I think we’ll see a change this year. Media shops are changing the way they bill, they’re investing in different lines of revenue and they’re finally seeing the value of real content partnerships. If clients demand more and change the way they compensate their media partners, and if media players become more proactive in their own thinking, media agencies won’t just come to the table with great thinking. They’ll also come as the keepers of the budget. That will carry a lot of weight.

At the same time, this is the year that creative shops hire media people

Big thinking can’t be bought with negotiated rates and full-page ad costs. It requires open thinking and entrepreneurial discussions with appropriate partners around the table. Some creative shops will realize that their best media planner is their creative team or their strategic planner. All that will be left will be signing the contracts. If you’re a creative media person, this could be a big year for you.

Ron Tite is president of The Tite Group, a content marketing agency based in Toronto, and chief content curator for Dx3 Canada

The full version of this story originally appeared at

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