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Future of Media: Olympics fever, OOH celebrates Freedom Day, Indy on TV


By John McCarthy | Media editor

July 22, 2021 | 9 min read

Welcome to The Drum's Future of Media column where we catch you up on the cutting edge of the sector once a week.

Toyko 2020


It's Olympics time. The biggest, most global opportunity event in all of media. And it is fair to say, it's kept us busy. So let's start with that this week.

Have the Games been torched?

The 2020 Olympics are nearly here after a one-year delay. This time around, brands have been a little more subdued in their approach to the Olympics due to the Covid-19 situation on the ground in Japan. It is remarkable that Toyota dropped Olympics TV ads during a long-awaited home Olympics [we explored why here]. Turns out it was quite a smart move.

But as tempers fray and Toyko citizens turn against the Games in fear of a super-spreader event, there has been talk of a potential cancellation, which would be a nightmare for sponsors. Naturally, no one wants that to happen (outside of Japan at least) but it's clear that marketers are now prepared for the absolute worst. When was the last time we weren't uncertain about what we're doing? Treading on eggshells and always being on is part of the job now.

Speaking of eggshells, polarity, politics and protest are all coming to a head during our greatest sporting events. At Euro 2020 there were unsavoury clashes on taking the knee and the inclusion of the Pride flag in stadiums. So now, it is not entirely surprising to hear that the IOC has banned its social teams from posting pictures of athletes taking the knee to protest racism.

The struggle is real, and has been ongoing. It is worth remembering the 1968 black power salute from Tommie Smith and John Carlo on the podium, it is an iconic Games moment and a pivot point in civil rights discourse.

Finally, an aside, Team GB's now selling NFTs so fans can support the teams and own a slice of history. It seems like an interesting new revenue stream with huge potential.

Independent TV

Running a news channel is not for the faint of heart (as GB New's audiences can attest). But news title The Independent is confident that its video section can live in the OTT space.

This is no video pivot. We've learned from that disaster. There's a full pitch process, before the concept gets shopped to brand partners. There are currently two series sat ready to go - they just lack sponsors.

The question is, can it find its audience amid all the noise, no matter the quality of its content?

Freedom Day - what does it mean?

Don't get me started on Freedom Day, a loosening of Covid-19 restrictions in England that most academics and people with any reading comprehension fear. But, we're not here to talk about viruses. We're here to talk about whether the day increased footfall and adspend. Spoiler. It did.

The out-of-home sector's been struggling. If people don't move, ads don't get seen. If businesses are shut, no one's advertising. It's a vicious loop that MAY have just been broken.

Luke Willbourn, chief client officer at Talon Outdoor and more talk me through how things have changed this last week... but will it last? Or will we end up back where we started again soon enough?

Meet the Media Minds

Matt Read, group head of digital at Space & Time, is in the hot seat this week. You should click just to see his mighty-fine dog friend (I didn't catch the name, bad journalism I know). Among his many tips and predictions is my favorite line here.

"People are starting to understand that companies will pay a lot of money for their data and that they can benefit from that. With this, I predict that in a few years’ time it will just be the norm that people earn rewards or cashback for sharing their data online."

Read it here.

And more

That's you all caught up. If you missed the last installment, read it here. You can subscribe to our other briefings here. And if you want to talk to me, I'm on Twitter, Linkedin and email.

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