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Meet the Media Minds: Total Media MD Tom Laranjo says to 'resist pressure to specialize'

Total Media managing director Tom Laranjo

Adland has a penchant for celebrating creativity, but those planning, buying and executing the campaigns are often forgotten. Meet the Media Minds sees The Drum address that imbalance and dig into the models and strategy of the world’s biggest media agencies.

This week we catch up with Total Media managing director Tom Laranjo.

What would be your first lesson for a newbie media type?

Don’t be afraid to be a generalist – resist pressure to specialize too fast – and look for information and inspiration from as wide a number of sources as possible.

What are the biggest challenges facing the business?

Climate change. We live in a world where we all must find a path to needing, having and wanting less. Though there is a myriad of scalable solutions to help prevent catastrophic climate change, in the end we will all need to adjust to having less. Enabling this in an industry driven by increasing consumption will require some significant pivots. The good news is that those who fully embrace this challenge will be richly rewarded with sustainable business models and a rapidly expanding pool of willing customers looking for businesses that align to planetary needs.

What platform or channel excites you the most and why?

Both professionally and personally I am excited by the rise and rise of podcasts. Over the various lockdowns I have personally discovered a rich world of content stretching across every genre and serving every mood. Though the market is already huge, with an estimated 16 million listeners in the UK alone, there is still so much room to develop and such a wonderful opportunity for brands to engage audiences.

What’s the most clever or innovative use of media you can think of?

In a part of our industry that has really suffered over the pandemic, I wanted to call out the continued innovation of OOH media. It has the amazing ability to surprise, delight and inform, as shown by the fantastic activation by Corona in its ‘100 islands protected’ campaign.

How is your agency evolving and how’s that differentiated from the competition?

Our behavioral approach really helps to set us apart, with our ability to offer solutions across media, product development, creative and much more, based on understanding the real influencers of people’s decisions. Our approach helps us to be fearless about what output our insights lead us toward and make us supremely relevant for clients looking for true partners who don’t have a channel in mind before they have even heard the question.

The brand relationship: how’s the power dynamic, the pay and the payment changing?

Agency and client roles across the marketing spectrum are not as delineated as they once were and the range of available operating models has certainly challenged existing structures. What brands are looking for is partnership and effectiveness, and agencies that focus on this, rather than vainly trying to defend old models of ‘ownership’, will find a prominent and respected seat at the table.

Is tech making your job easier – or complicating matters?

In general, technology is making our jobs a lot easier across everything from communication to data utilization, and I am excited about both what we have now and what is to come. However, what the pandemic has certainly shown me is that technology, applied without thought, can be disastrous.

Where’s the money going? What’s the shift over the years?

The major digital players, Google, Facebook, Amazon ... have unquestionably drawn, and continue to draw, the most significant share of media investment, and these behemoths are showing no real sign of slowing. What will be interesting to see is the shift in investment that will come from some radical and significant changes in our behavior that the pandemic has either accelerated or helped to establish. With hybrid working practices allowing a dispersal of populations out of the major cities, this has and will continue to create changes in what we watch, what we listen to, where we shop, where we go for entertainment and how much we travel.

Make a big prediction about the sector.

There will be increasing and more globally aligned regulatory pressure placed on the major technology players – and the unified position on global tax is just the start. A push for fragmentation, audience verification and regulation is on the way.

Last week, Dentsu X’s Sanjay Nazerali talked us through his views.

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