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Jens Mortier: “The arrival of VTM had a massive impact on our industry”

1 February marks 30 years since VTM made its first broadcast. It’s not only the programs, faces and sets that have changed over the years; the advertising methods have also evolved. How exactly? We put this question to Head of Creative Sales, Stijn Cavens, and Creative Director at mortierbrigade, Jens Mortier.  

How has a commercial channel such as VTM changed TV advertising in Belgium?

Jens Mortier

Jens Mortier: “When I first started out in the advertising sector it was a decidedly francophone environment, and I was the ‘Flemish delegate’. This didn’t leave me with any permanent scars, but the arrival of VTM did make sure that Dutch-language creations could and had to be made. And that had an undeniably huge impact on our industry.”

Stijn Cavens: “We faced a relatively small competitive field in VTM’s early years. Of course, the fact that 70% of our content was local was extremely attractive to advertisers. Because it’s a lucrative environment for placing advertisements. In terms of local commercial content, VTM paved the way for the commercial channels that followed. We didn’t just make 30-second spots; we identified the perfect length and form, and tailored the ad to the precise requirements of our clients.” 

What did the arrival of VTM mean for advertisers and creative minds?

Jens Mortier: “In the wake of VTM, independent Dutch-speaking agencies such as Duval Guillaume, LG&F and LDV really began to shine. They’ve since taken Belgian advertising to unprecedented heights, and inspired the entire marketing world. Which has benefited both advertiser and viewer.”

“In 2008, our partners 'merely’ wanted to sponsor Idol. We now write the relevant branded content stories with them hand in hand.”

Stijn Cavens MEDIALAAN - de Persgroep Advertising

How has advertising on VTM changed over the years?

Jens Mortier: “The 30-second spot has been declared dead on numerous occasions, yet it still prevails. The context has also greatly improved. And MEDIALAAN has consistently kept up with new media and its various formats. It's nice to see that a good old 30-second commercial performs well both on TV and online, for example. With more than 1.1 million views, our ‘Da Da Ta' for Mobile Vikings was the most frequently watched commercial on YouTube. Meta!”

Stijn Cavens has observed an evolution from product-centric to client-centric thinking. “The biggest difference is that we used to sell more from the product. In 2008, advertisers ‘merely’ wanted to sponsor 'Idol'. There was a uniform package for the entire series, comprising billboards, trailer tag-ons and the option of product placement. But that was it. Now everything revolves around co-creation. Advertisers want to know how we can link them to our content. Which is why we now place Creative Sales team employees on-site with the client from the very outset, to ensure that we understand what makes them tick. We write relevant branded content stories hand in hand with our partners. The distribution between media investment and production budget has consequently changed. In the past, 95% went to media investment, whereas we’re now observing a shift to production.” 

Curious about what the TV spots look like right from the word go?

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