Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief
We welcome news, gossip and all feedback, whether the latter be clarification, observation, new news or even criticism! Discussion of our industry sector is very important and balance of views is crucial. A lot of what we say is, of course, our opinion.
Over the weekend we received the following comment on our post ‘Media Week – Time Is Of The Essence‘ from Oscar L. Elizaga, Scala’s EMEA Vice President which we all thought was better published as a post rather than tucked away as a comment (that may not get as many page views as it deserves).
In that original post Oscar would have taken exception to the following…
If you take the idiots at Scala as absolutely the worst case example, one hint of bad press and they drop the journalists completely – leaving them off mailing lists and generally ignoring them. Who was it that said “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”?
Anyway, our thanks go to Oscar and his team for taking the time to reach out to us and below published in its entirety is their comments / letter to us…
It has come to my attention following a recent review of our marketing and PR strategy for SCALA EMEA that, owing to an administrative error, your contact details were deleted from our PR database. This is clearly a mistake and now this has been identified, I have given instructions to have this corrected so that we can continue to share information with you and your team in advance of publication elsewhere.
This aforementioned marketing and PR review has been underway for some time, in good part owing to SCALA and its partners being engaged in a range of high profile innovative programmes across Europe which we hope to provide the market with appropriately crafted & detailed information on in due course.
Consequently, I am pleased to inform you that we have taken the positive step of hiring the Imperative Group led by Chris Heap to develop and promote the many high profile programmes we are developing at SCALA and with our partners in recognition of our desire to provide relevant, high quality & information-rich communications to the marketplace henceforth.
The appointment of the Imperative Group is part of an integrated package of improvements to our marketing and PR program which is yet to be formally publicised. However, in the spirit of co-operation and owing to the fact that you prefer the DailyDOOH to carry exclusives, please consider this information available for publication via the DailyDOOH if you so wish.
The timing of this note to you is also partly influenced by the article I recently read titled ‘Media Week – Time is of the Essence’ (published on Friday, October 10th, 2008). I read this article with interest and frankly agree with several of the points you raise; both in terms of the manner in which some companies reach out to the market and the quality & balance of claims made. Many of the points you raise are consistent with our views on PR best practice and as you will be able to see in the coming weeks we will be putting in place people and processes to enable us to deliver a high calibre of newsworthy interest pieces to the market.
What I find ironic in the context of this letter is that in your article, you chose to express your evident annoyance with SCALA owing to a view that SCALA had in some way dropped you as a journalistic channel because of some “bad press”. This is simply not the case as I have detailed earlier and I can confirm that any lack of communication with the DailyDOOH was simply a clerical error not one based on prejudice and as I have already mentioned, SCALA would be delighted to resume all communication with the DailyDOOH since we now understand the circumstances behind this apparent lack of communication.
On the matter of bad press; we are a grown-up business. In my experience, good products and services and certainly successful companies do not always elicit good press and I have known plenty of occasions where poor products and services receive good press to my chagrin. There is no set formula or guarantees for eliciting a specific response from a specific journalist or commentator given the occasional commercial or political subtexts and as such we simply try to ensure that our business, our people and our products & services do the best job they can for our clients, partners and stakeholders.
However, I cannot reasonably remain philosophical nor neutral when a third party refers to my business (and by default the people working within, our shareholders, our partners and our clients) as “idiots”. Perhaps I do not need to emphasise that SCALA is a professional, successful and profitable global business with 21 years of successful enterprise and substantial contributions to what is now a significant growth market. Consequently, I believe your comments were highly emotional and I believe most business owners who have made informed decisions to use SCALA would take exception to those comments given those have no basis in fact.
What is fact from SCALA’s perspective is that, to date, our PR processes have been rigorous and tempered by our own internal policies as well as those of our clients (end-users). In essence, there are a couple of standards in this respect we at SCALA follow without exception:
1. Unlike many companies in this market, we never publish PR that over-claims on the scope and purpose.
2. We always seek written permission from our clients and partners before publishing anything. This is because we recognise our products are invariably used in projects with strategic relevance by our clients, often resulting in competitive advantage to their business, thus we respect their desire for privacy without exceptions no matter how constrained we feel about publishing information relating to projects of which we are very proud.
With regard to the DailyDOOH, I fully recognise your efforts to raise the profile of the sector and to provide a rich information and discussion destination for those in (and out) of the sector to share, discuss and engage. What I would ask and expect is that you take the high road in expressing your opinions, thus you do so in such a way that is at least respectful of others and based on fact, as was not the case with your article of October 10th.
If the DailyDOOH blog is a journalistic endeavor and you are operating within the realms of strict journalistic integrity rather than as a commercial enterprise, then perhaps I should reasonably expect some form of acknowledgement to this letter. Whatever dialogue we have following this letter, I trust we can do so respectfully, constructively and professionally.
In the spirit of transparency and perhaps in order to balance your article of October 10th, I would be more than happy for you to publish this letter in its entirety on the DailyDOOH and invite others on your blog to make comment as they see fit.
Oscar L. Elizaga
Vice President, EMEA
In what makes our original post even more interesting / controversial (delete as you feel fit) is that Media Week themselves will, this week, be running a letter from us in their printed periodical complete with some really nice photos from Titan that we supplied them with. Watch this space as we will be reporting on that as soon as published.
October 21st, 2008 at 14:01 @625
Somebody should remind Oscar not to post emotional emails over the weekend; clearly he has no appetite for the high road. A rebuttal of this length clarifies for many of us I would think, a measurement of truth. Oscar don’t sweat the small stuff, let your actions / sales be you’re defence, as in this case clearly you took the bait.
J Woolsey Visual Motivations
October 21st, 2008 at 18:37 @817
We are an interactive agency doing kiosks and digital signage. We recently partnered with and switched to Scala from a competitive DS management product. We have been very happy working with Scala as a partner so far, and their tools are robust.
We too have many clients that will not allow us to write PR about the projects we do for them. It’s frustrating for a smaller firm that is trying to grow. It’s a tight line we walk with NDA’s etc. Some will allow when we ask, many will not.
By the way, I will have our PR firm add you to the list of any releases we put out in regards to DS or kiosks. Keep up the postings, it’s always good to see your opinions, whether we agree or not.
November 7th, 2008 at 05:39 @277
Involved as I am with the Scala distributor for Southern Africa, I feel compelled to add to this discussion and share my unique experience with Scals over the last decade.
As early as 1998 I had identified the new opportunity coming over the horizon (DOOH) and immediately started development on a satellite digital media distribution system. It was while marketing our home grown product in Holland that I came across Scala and immediately purchased InfoChannel Designer to see what it was about. It was clear that here was a product already well into it’s evolution and I began to use the product effectively for a number of applications.
In the early 2000’s I was approached by Gerard Bucas (CEO Scala), who had heard of my activities in the market and wanted to explore my to distributing Scala in South Africa. After meeting with Gerard I was immediately taken with his energy, enthusiasm, and powerful passion for his product, and once it became apparent as to the resources Scala was putting behind it’s initiative into the new broadcast arena, I was compelled to throw in the towel on my own development. I decided instead to back this already well established product and in partnership with Ethniks Systems duly became the appointed distributor for Southern Africa.
Ethniks Systems was an already well established co. (Since 1987) specialising in the design, supply, implementation and management of specific business enhancing technology solutions, and for a long period ran a good portion of our countries hospital management systems. They had vast experience and expertise in deploying and managing wide area network systems throughout Southern Africa and were ideally placed to fast-track digital media networks in our territory.
After a very short learning curve, we quickly began to deploy Scala into a number of prestigious accounts in retail, banking, cellular and government agencies and have established the product as the clear market leader in South Africa. We base our relatively quick success in this notoriously slow and still difficult market (we all know what a painful gestation digital signage has had) on a few points:
Firstly, as opposed to the myriad of products we have tested, Scala works! And it keeps on working. In a territory such as ours with vast distances between commercial nodes and limited or at least restricted infrastructure, this is critical or else support issues would have long crippled our business.
We also have experienced enormous support from the Scala crew and their CEO Gerard Bucas through some difficult growing pains in both our camps – but both our companies are reaping the benefit of the mutual trust and support we have developed. Sure, as with any relationship we have had a few rocky moments, but never destructive and always culminating in a strengthening of the partnership.
To-date we have large scale deployments in a number of top companies and organisations in Southern Africa with every one an ongoing success. We and our clients have experienced extremely limited support problems or downtimes due to the tried and proven stability of the Scala offering.
Just some of our satisfied digital media network clients are:
Woolworths and Pick n’ Pay (Our two major FMCG retailers),
Eskom (Government Power Utility – Corporate Communication Network)),
South African Post Office,
Nedbank …with many more in the pipeline!
It is particularly evident that our experience with Scala is not unique after attending the EMEA conference recently in Amsterdam. There were over 200 participants in attendance with a powerful camaraderie – all exploring ways to work together to find new ways to develop the market and prosper from the 27 years of development behind the product. The sharing of success stories clearly indicated Scala has a strong leading presence in the EMEA region.
It was also evident from the “mini-expo” there that Scala has aligned itself with, and has the respect of some of the top names in the industry including LG, Panasonic, Samsung and many others.
In closing, after our own experience and success with this product and the company behind it, we feel somewhat baffled as to why Scala has somehow ended up on the dark side of this forum which seems to underestimate it’s well deserved leading position in this market. We also hope our honest and open input will encourage any naysayers to look at Scala and the people behind it in the light we feel they deserve.
November 7th, 2008 at 17:47 @783
Since the beginning (1996) our Benelux based team at Troades ebvba has been working closely with Scala in EMEA as our sole partner for projects in the field of Dynamic (Digital) Signage. Our company focuses on optimizing the client’s ‘marketing dollar spent’ using all available cross media channels: we redefine the marketing mix so to speak.
New media channels such as Web 2.0, Digital Signage, Vod- and Pod casting, IPTV and of course the ever growing brand experience centers create the opportunity for marketers to ‘narrow’ their message to both location and (captive) audience. Scala InfoChannel 5 is the only software out there that has been able to help us all these years with the easy creation of both dynamic play lists of content files and adding interactivity ‘on the fly’. The latter is getting more and more important reaching out and getting the message across to the targeted receiver (interactive messages have proven to be 4-5 times more effective in communication power than TV-like programmed messages).
The latest project we completed earlier this month in The Netherlands is the multi sense experience environment at the new “Miele Inspirience Centre” located in the Miele Netherlands headquarter facility. Here we work with location based audio, video, lighting and scent impulses to provide an environment where people feel welcome and are being supported with technology to get the right information at the right time at the right place! An iPOD Touch device is used to even help the client get his personal relevant Miele Key Selling Point on product groups and specific features. Planned for 2009 is taking this to the next level by moving from the currently implemented ‘location awareness’ to ‘profile awareness’ – 1:1 permission based marketing.
Scala powers the complete experience, from lighting control, switching on displays, creating scents (time- and location based) and of course also the (interactive) content on more than 100 displays. On the same so called “content manager” (web based central control panel for players and content programming /distribution) we are also able to manage the ‘shop-in-shop’ interactive displays that will be installed throughout 2009 in the Miele Innovation Centers (at premium selected Miele distribution partners). After an intensive product comparison and evaluation period in the last quarter of 2007 we have again selected Scala being the ONLY product that is flexible enough to be so
closely integrated with the other aspects of the “Miele Inspirience”.
Working with ‘state-of-the-art’ suppliers and being challenged by our clients to create the best communication available I can only agree with Tim Burke when he mentions the paradigm of wanting to write PR about what has been done but being restricted by NDAs. The good news is that in our case, if you REALLY want to see some state-of-the-art application of Digital Signage you are welcome to come and visit the Miele Inspirience Centre, as it is of course open to the general public. So when you are next in The Netherlands, come and see our innovative work at Miele NL, De Limiet 2, NL-4131 Vianen (+31-347 378888) or visit http://www.miele.nl
While being there, visit any location of for instance de RAI, Rabobank, McDonalds, Nimco House Of Shoes or Studio27 and you can see hundreds of other significant and impressive networks – powered by market leader Scala.