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Sir Alan wrote the book on television advertising.

In his now familiar style Sir Alan Sugar stood up at a recent Marketing Society conference and demolished the previous speaker. The Marketing Director from ITV had just presented results from a study that, surprisingly enough, 'proved' that mainstream television advertising works.

"I wrote the book on advertising," Sir alan quipped, "the cheque book. I've spent more on television advertising than all of you lot combined will have earned in the whole of your working careers. It no longer works, and I'll tell you why," he went on, his finger jabbing at the audience. "Audiences are fragmenting. They're on the computer, or out on the razzle. and viewers aren't always viewing ads anymore. They do something else when the ads come on, or they've programmed the ads out with the help of set-top boxes so they can watch without interupption. Everyone I know who has one is doing it." The audience loved it.

Years ago Persil, Dulux, VW, Cadbury's and others would spend a cool 12 to 20 million a year, knowing it bought them a prime time passport to a mass audience who watched their ads. Those who couldn't afford the ride made do with other media. But now, no matter how much you spend you can't buy that mass audience. Marketing's big battalions have lost their inbuilt advantage, and are searching to find new ways to reach their fragmented target markets. Traditional broadcast television advertising is dying, but the role of television in the marketing mix is reinventing itself. The new approach appears to be an integrated mix of different media including the internet, direct marketing, posters and advertising. Where television is used it is often narrow cast, on channels aimed more precisely at different segments of the market.

Television in the window industry used to be the preserve of mass market, direct sell companies such as Everest or Safestyle. But more recently a number of smaller companies have shown that used selectively, the power of television can be focused effectively to get their message across.

The internet is a great leveller. You don't need to be a big company with deep pockets to make an impact. Television will never be cheap, but it need not be expensive. You can still lose your shirt if you throw money around. But used cleverly and carefully, in conjunction with other media, television can do what other media can't. 'As seen on TV' still catches the eye and works its magic.

In the past companies would skim down the list of media they might use and strike out television as too expensive and cumbersome. But times have changed, and there are new opportunities for this 'new' media. Is it time you had a rethink and put TV advertising back on the menu?

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