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Why We Invented This Is Touch

How a career-long quest to combine public relations and advertising into one concept created a brand new communications product

When This Is Touch was launched in 2013 it was the culmination of a long journey in communications.

Starting out as a journalist back in the late 1980’ies I quickly moved to public relations, spending nine years with Burson-Marsteller – ending up running the Central European region.

Working in public relations it was easy to see the advantages and downsides compared to advertising. Public relations offered credibility and low cost, but low reliability because journalists acted as a filter.

In advertising you got to control the messages and push your brand out in front of the consumers without a filter.

What if public relations and advertising could be combined – the credibility and low cost of public relations combined with the unfiltered, but high cost access to consumers of advertising?

When I started out in Central Europe I brought a Western European toolkit that – with a few adjustments – turned out to be very effective in the new setting.

Things were different in Central Europe in the years just after the Berlin Wall came down. It was a period of transformation to democracy and market economy – very similar to the growing pains experienced in the Growth Markets today.

The needs for information were different and international corporations had a large role to play. For example, a number of international companies joined up to run a Nutrition Council in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic to educate the population on nutritional issues – a task left behind by the public authorities at a time when life expectancy was in the low to mid 60’ies in the region due to poor nutritional habits.

The Nutrition Councils of the three countries covered all nutritional and health issues. While sponsored by industry it was run by a number of highly regarded physicians. They had easy access to television and the impact was huge.

Similar obligations and opportunities exist in the Growth Markets. While the economies grow a good deal faster than in the developed world, each of these markets is in multiple transitions at the same time. They are at different stages, but all making decisions on the future of infrastructure, energy supply and healthcare systems. At the same time the consumers of the future are tuning in to Western brands.

Getting to the decision makers and consumers first is essential to global companies. There is an opportunity and an obligation for these companies to share their technologies and know-how.

After my stint in Central Europe I went on to run communications and advertising for ten years at Danske Bank, by far the largest financial institution in Denmark, exploring the boundaries of advertising versus public relations – still wanting to combine the two.

The opportunity came when I ran communications and branding at A.P. Moller-Maersk, a global conglomerate operating in 130 countries across several industries. The solution was a new concept based on mutual gain.

Bringing the solutions of Maersk to television audiences across the Growth Markets in more than 20 well-produced and relevant films.

It may be counterintuitive in a digital age, but television is still the best mass medium to attract attention to your messages and generate awareness in the Growth Markets. In combination with digital media the ability to create attention and action is unprecedented.

This Is Touch was founded to let other companies – large or small – gain access to television during regular programming.

Steen Reeslev is the managing partner of This Is Touch – a company providing television airtime for corporations in the growth markets of Latin-America, Asia, and Africa. Previously he was senior vice president responsible for Group Relations at A.P. Moller-Maersk. This Is Touch is based on experience from A.P. Moller-Maersk. The company produced a large number of films on all aspects of the business. The high quality of the films gave access to airtime on television in more than 30 markets.