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BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt MARCH 2014 • WEEK THREE
The advertising media
market is a competi-
tive one which attracts
revenue of more than
$0.5 billion a year, said
James Smith, manag-
ing director of adver-
tising firm McCann
The changing dynamics of the advertising
market in the last five years -- which
included the global economic downturn -
- have seen revenue double in digital adver-
Smith recalled in an interview at his
office on Rapsey Street, St Clair, on Monday
that during 2008-2013, the advertising
sector did not experience deep declines as
the telecom market had started to heat up.
The corporate community chose not to
significantly cutback on advertising.
"Trinidad is a very competitive place,
so therefore brands out there compete a
lot. I don t think the financial 2008/2009,
I don t recall there being any huge downturn
within our business, but obviously that
was a key time when the telecommunica-
tions battle was going on."
Advertising agencies come and go. Two
that came to mind for Smith were OGM
Trinidad and Hernandez FCB.
McCann Port-of-Spain, which has a
staff of 60, four of whom focus entirely
on digital advertising, has won 12 Gold
Addy Advertising awards and 18 silver
awards at the 2014 Caribbean Addy Awards.
Election campaigns have been known to
attract millions of dollars in advertising,
McCann stays far away from politics.
"As part of our way of operating, we
stay apolitical. We want to be impartial,
our business is working with our clients
and we have not been involved in any polit-
"The type of political advertising is very
polarising and one wins and one loses. It
is just a choice that McCann makes. I think
it s not just here, but elsewhere. We do not
get involved in political advertising; that s
obviously to remain neutral."
Advertising attracted through political
campaigns is tracked separately by the T&T
Publishers and Broadcasters Association
to determine whether the market has grown
" A lot of money comes into the market
(during campaigning). Some people (busi-
ness leaders) during periods of high clutter
or political advertising will pull back their
advertising, so it does not get lost in all
the clutter. In the last three years, our econ-
omy has been fairly stagnant, so you haven t
seen much growth overall in the advertising
How does McCann generate revenue
during elections? It does more "trade pro-
motion" by working in the various groceries
or stores. A trade promotion is a marketing
technique aimed at increasing demand for
a product, such as having a customer buy
four items and get one free.
Smith said McCann s 2013 digital busi-
ness doubled over that of 2012.
"Every campaign we do, we will think
how it can have a digital aspect."
There are more than 1,300 billboards in
T&T, Smith said.
"There are a lot of billboard clutter in
T&T. What was interesting was that we
used billboards with the "single barrel"
campaign four years ago. We had a suc-
cessful launch when we tried to take on
and make some noise about Single Barrel,
we had a high visibility campaign on bill-
boards so we changed out every two weeks."
He said digital media and technology are
the two elements that have changed the
McCann business over the last three years.
"Our competition is coming from a lot
of non-traditional agency (advertising agen-
cies). We are also getting a lot more com-
petition from the digital arena, where we
have now digital agencies which are some-
times aligned to bigger agencies. We also
do things like brand activation and events.
If you do a great brand activation, like the
Carnival bands, you ll find you are com-
peting with them for events for clients.
While overall competition in the market
is swift, so too is competition for the right
"We are selling creative ideas. For creative
ideas to be developed, it needs a certain
quality of person of certain way people
think. We try to build our talent. We take
a lot of younger people and over a period
of time, we grow them and expose them.
Caribbean and Latin America
T&T is McCann s hub for the Caribbean.
In 2007, McCann closed down its Barbados
and Jamaica operations. Smith said there
are clients who are based overseas, but the
services are taken from Port-of-Spain.
"A Milo campaign that we develop here
in T&T will run throughout the region."
Different demographics, different islands
don t necessarily mean different advertis-
"There are a lot more commonalities
that you would imagine. You do not change
a movie to fit different markets.There are
a lot more commonalities among the people
in the Caribbean than there are differ-
He anticipates the Latin American market
to grow, especially as McCann has part of
the contract for World Cup 2014.
Digital advertising revenue
doubles in five years
James Smith, managing director, McCann
Port-of-Spain. PHOTO: MARYANNE AUGUSTE
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