"Deciding against regional titles was hard for us".

In an interview with Werbewoche.ch, Thorsten Winkler and Melissa Spycher from Mediaschneider Bern talk about their collaboration with the FOPH on the Corona campaign.


Thorsten Winkler, CEO Mediaschneider Bern, and Melissa Spycher, COO Mediaschneider Bern, are currently in their home office.


Werbewoche.ch: Mediaschneider Bern supports the FOPH in Corona communication. What exactly does your work look like?

Thorsten Winkler: We advise the FOPH on strategic media deployment issues and are responsible for the operational implementation of this media strategy. The aim of the federal government's campaign is to reach the target group as comprehensively, promptly and effectively as possible. The media mix plays an important role here and we advise the FOPH on the selection of channels.


How do you select these channels?

Melissa Spycher: Criteria for the selection are, for example, the media performance and booking flexibility, but also the type of use must be suitable for the message depth and the great time pressure of this campaign. Together with the creative agency Rod, we provide media recommendations for action. We take care of the detailed planning and implementation of the campaign, collect and analyse daily updated data and are also available to the FOPH as a sparring partner.


The current crisis probably surprised Mediaschneider Bern as much as anyone else. Was there already a cooperation with the FOPH or did it start spontaneously?

Spycher: "Both and" is the best way to put it. In fact, it took just one week from the first meeting with the FOPH to the appearance of the first ad. When you take responsibility for such an important campaign, it requires a lot of flexibility. On the other hand, we have been working closely with the FOPH for several years. We were allowed to implement the Smokefree campaign and are in charge of the organ donation campaign in Bern, while our colleagues at Mediaschneider Zurich are working on the Love Life campaign.


Only one week - what challenges did this short deadline pose for your company?

Winkler: The insomnia is certainly a challenge. In addition to the heavy workload and some night shifts, you also become aware of the great responsibility: the Swiss population relies on the instructions of the federal government in times of crisis, so you can hardly afford to make mistakes and timing is very important. Suddenly we can save lives, which otherwise happens rather rarely in our work.

Sypcher: The Confederation's communication is shaped by a number of conditions that are non-negotiable in this particular situation. The target group is given as "the population of Switzerland", even though special consideration must of course be given to regional hotspots and risk groups. The great unknown was and is the unpredictable development of the situation. You drive on sight and that means short lead times and demands an enormous degree of flexibility and concentration.


How short can the lead times be?

Winkler: It happens that we receive a briefing on Friday and the campaign is supposed to start on Sunday. You then simply have to make the impossible possible and rely on the support of your team. The media also play an important role, as they have to process the bookings at the weekend and set them up for the launch. Everyone involved has to be available and contribute even at inconvenient times. We are used to tight deadlines, but this is a challenge for everyone. I am very grateful for the great team at Mediaschneider Bern and the incredibly professional collaboration with the FOPH and colleagues at Rod. The vendors and marketers are also very accommodating and helpful. Even in advertising, it only works "together".


What media strategy do you and the FOPH pursue in communicating with the Swiss public?

Spycher: Basically, of course, we try to reach as many people as possible with our messages in the shortest possible time. That's why we rely on a broad mix of channels.


What role does television play in this?

Spycher: Television - and news environments in particular - are currently very widely used and, with their national coverage, are predestined for use. The risk group of senior citizens can be reached particularly well via television.


And the younger people?

Winkler: They, too, are naturally in focus, as they are very mobile and probably tend to find it most difficult to comply with federal directives. Consequently, we rely on a broad mix of social media channels such as Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram.


Presumably not all media are equally suited to dissemination?

Spycher: Flexibility and short delivery times play a decisive role in the choice of channels. Poster advertising requires five to ten working days' lead time and would thus be far too sluggish. With print media, we can hardly consider weekly titles because the message has to be coordinated and delivered on a specific day.


Did you also make a conscious decision not to use other channels?

Winkler: Of course, every placement also has a political and an economic dimension. We had to ask ourselves, for example, whether we were also considering small and regional titles. Many would be happy for economic support, but they could hardly increase the campaign's performance values. That's where you start to wonder, and we discussed the possibilities at length. In the end, we had to decide against regional titles, as hard as that was for us. Maximum effectiveness and efficient use of the budget were the main priorities for this campaign. We therefore have to accept the accusation that we are making the choice of media too easy ...



Winkler: ...if something doesn't apply to this campaign, it's the word "simple". We focus mainly on dailies because they are very flexible. A short-term booking or a postponement is possible at any time.


This decision is not likely to go down well everywhere.

Spycher: Exactly, this naturally leads to resentment on the part of the titles that we cannot take into account. For example, we also hear accusations that the FOPH is irresponsible and does not care about the readers of a particular title.


An unfounded accusation?

Spycher: With such a large and nationwide campaign across all media, it's absurd to think that the message only reaches the target audience via a single title. To be honest, I'm also not always sure whether these accusations are solely about the well-being of the readership, or whether prestige doesn't also play a role. According to the motto: By placing an ad, the federal government certifies the systemic relevance of this newspaper.


Although the need for media information is huge at the moment, many clients are very reluctant to advertise. How does that affect your day-to-day work as a media agency?

Winkler: We have - although not quite seriously - played a little with the idea of whether we want to afford office space at all in the future. We quickly came to the conclusion that a physical address is still the best solution, but the thought alone says a lot about the lessons we have learned from the home office.


What are the learnings?

Winkler: Most virtual meetings are highly efficient, if only because there is no need for the usual ceremonial: everyone knows where they are sitting, they already have their coffee and no one is desperately trying to get the beamer to work for several minutes.

Spycher: Apart from that, we are very lucky to have our hands full. We have been spared cancellations to a certain extent and the order situation is positive. Some campaigns have been postponed, others are being adapted to changing lifestyles, and a complete "makeover" is necessary for some of the campaigns. But we will also manage this together with our customers. We certainly won't get bored anytime soon.

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