Future of Media

The Drum's senior reporter and media correspondent John McCarthy rounds up the latest media trends and developments. Also available in your inbox every Thursday as The Drum's Future of Media email briefing. Sign up here.

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Future of Media: Junk food ad ban, Love Island the game, and the PornHub problem

This is an extract from The Drum's Future of Media briefing. You can subscribe to it here if you'd like it your inbox once a week.

Welcome back. After another busy week in media, I'm happy to share another Future of Media briefing filled with lots of good stuff from The Drum.

Should junk food ads be banned from TV – and online?

Boris Johnson's government has launched a war on obesity. Advertising’s been hit with a (highly contested) share of the blame for the UK’s spiralling obesity rates.

Proposals are moving forward to outlaw ads for high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) products on TV before the 9pm watershed. There will also now be a consultation on the so-called junk foods ads being banned completely online.

Ad trade bodies, united in distaste for the move, have responded by, in essence, having to argue against the effectiveness of their own medium. At least that's how some have interpreted their response. I’ve condensed their arguments:

  • Existing rules and regulations (ASA) are “world-leading”.

  • Obesity is a socio-economic issue that requires government spend, not a free scapegoat.

  • Advertising Association research said under 16s see less than 0.5 seconds of HFSS ads per day per child. 

  • The media needs that sweet junk food spend, especially right now.

  • Some say HFSS marketing is more about winning market share, not growing the market. Others worry it'll advantage even unhealthier brands.

The ad body responses are here.

Later in the week, The Drum executive editor Stephen Lepitak threw the cat among the pigeons and hosted a debate between Action on Sugar, the Advertising Association and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB).

That gets into the details of the argument. All in glorious live, standard definition, Zoom glory. 

Remarketing Tokyo 2020

Tokyo 2020 will be forever asterisked in history books as the first postponed Olympic Games. The pandemic-enforced delay means it is now the longest-marketed Games – a fact that presents a whole host of unprecedented challenges.

There's 'One Year to Go’ until Tokyo 2020. Again. Got a sense of deja vu from this marketing campaign? Well, cast it aside.

The 2020 drive shares little DNA with 2019's, with the new strategy anticipating new pandemic behaviours and sensitivities. The team probably weren't too stoked to find out they had to generate a whole extra year of content during a pandemic, after the last campaign essentially crescendoed prematurely.

The IOC's new digital engagement director Christopher Carroll has shared the secrets behind the campaign. His team’s navigating much of the same concerns as the rest of us, only, he's running the Olympics. Which is quite the undertaking. 

While third party broadcasters will be doing all they can to get the most value out of the property, Carroll’s team is taking more responsibility for driving excitement this time around.

Expect to see more archive content on its owned-channels, and I’m sure you’ll see the athletes across your socials sharing their regimes and trying to get you in the Olympic mindset.

Read more here.

The nub of PornHub

PornHub’s had an easy ride in ad land.

I’ll take some of the blame for that. I was an early advocate, excited by the efforts to crack a rude joke and just happy not to be writing about Ads.Txt or something.

 

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Over the years, it has developed some utterly fantastic creative, riding the wave of a taboo topic, and was deserving of positivity. I even interviewed their ad agency, it was a fantastic brief. 

But now, it's 2020. We're assessing the impact of media platforms and social media firms of the world. Neville Doyle, chief strategy officer of Town Square, has told us how uneasy he is at the blind eye turned to the site’s darker side.

He asked a simple question: “If I told you there was child pornography available to view on Apple’s website, would you want to talk about its brilliant advertising?”

Here’s got some strong views on this cognitive dissonance the platform benefits from, and the problems it needs to solve. Hold your PornHub applause for now perhaps.

No love lost

I shed no tears when Love Island was cancelled for the year. But many did. Such is the beauty of the media smorgasbord. 

At some point a few years ago, ITV’s Love Island was elevated from bespoke hit to a cornerstone of the zeitgeist. You can't just pull it from the entertainment schedule.

Lucky for ITV, it had the Love Island mobile game bubbling away. It directed extra resource into the title with a big pay-off in lockdown.

I spoke to Wil Stephens, the chief exec of Fusebox, the developers behind the game, about where video game adaptations sit in the modern entertainment mix.

I’ll not spoil any of the chat. Let’s just say Stephens made the following claim that might change how you feel about gaming.

“Our figures are significantly higher than any single version of the show by quite a long way. For context, the July 2019 UK Love Island live final was aired to 3.63 million people.” The game’s got about 13m players in the system, from around the globe, these players are buying virtual cosmetics and more. 

Think of the potential here, using the game to drive live TV audiences, or god forbid, using the show to drive downloads of the game.

Read it here.

There’s much to come in this space.

Well, that’s this week’s round-up, if you missed last week’s, I’ve summarised the findings here.

If you've anything to share, a tip, a correction, a complaint, or if you just want to chat, you can get me at john.mccarthy@thedrum.com or @johngeemccarthy on Twitter.

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