Tuesday, 2 October 2007
My First Year in Media (MKII)
So after our entertaining, fast speaking Wii fest round Anton's on Saturday it became apparent that I had started this but not finished just about sums up how busy things can get when you 'inside'. Nah just kidding, media agencies aren't really like prisons. Plus I have no internet at home and suddenly everyone has realised how to activate the wireless WPA security setting. rubbish.
It's been nearly 13 months since I set foot in Adland and I reckon its been very 50:50. 28 weeks of feeling on top of the world, learning about New Media opportunities, opening numerous gifts from media owners in the post, gobbling the odd doughnut and of course - L U N C H.
But rolling back to back with 28 weeks of standard, business as usual, media-schedule-tennis and autopilot mode, but hey, that's work and the odds are you will get that in most jobs.
So I thought I could shed some light on what being a Media Planner is all about and offer an honest view of the discipline. Let's not hide around any towels here people - In an ideal world I would have jumped straight into creative. What induced my consideration of media planning was actually my fascination of guerrilla/ambient/experiential campaigns. You've probably seen the emails with various global stunts or flicked through Guerilla Advertising in Magma stores, - yep, im a big fan. The low cost, the outdoorness (get used to new words just being pulled out of the air), the standout, the viral/chat factor, the piggy-back PR when Metro pick up on it. It ticks most boxes in my opinion. Anyway I was informed that it is media agencies that plan and think about these and was also advised that with today's fragmented media landscape and growing relevance of ROI, (pffft sorry!) Media will be a more interesting and exciting place to work than it ever has been.
Which to a certain extent is true. I have been lucky with the nature of the clients that I am working on and we have dabbled in some exciting outdoor projection formats and there have been talks of bringing FunHouse back. Shhh don't get too excited.
We do also need to develop and study consumer insights (big shout to Anton for the definition), perhaps not as in-depth as creative agencies but just as important. These are then considered for the overall media strategy and aimed to be supported with research - media agencies love research tools, they may invest millions in developing their own or buying existing systems but they all require patience, analytical skills and close attention to detail.
Working closely with various media departments allows you to really grasp how each channel works and in what context, I guess when factoring in the target audience, becomes very useful to determining what client you want to be on the creative team for. All very well having the big name Agency on your CV but how interested will you be with a client that spends 80% of their budget on doordrops and inserts??
Another positive of media planning is the level of creative input you get. When you meet the A(dgrad) Team you will realise that we are all bursting with ideas - and hopefully you guys are too. To be honest, I've no idea of the level of creative input in the different roles at creative agencies. Most Grad roles are in account handling or planning - planning is the most obvious, but at such a junior level are you really going to have a significant input? Perhaps Anton could enlighten us on the first year of planning??
Media is different. The output of channel planning may seem like common sense to a lot of you and essentially it is. New Hybrid Lawnmower? (fck what a good idea!)... obviously want a full colour page in BBC Gardener's World Magazine. Both agency and client may already have in mind some particular programming that needs to be cherry picked.
The excitement begins with the brainstorms about the extra/unallocated/experiemntal (?) budget and how it should be spent. Here I've been to several create sessions where ideas are thrown left right and centre, role play, touch and taste sensations, mind mapping. And sometimes your idea will actually get to a proposed schedule... quite a good tingly gooey feeling.
So it can be interesting, trust me. Just keep in mind that (and this may seem condescending but HR did tell us of grads that aren't aware of it) WE DON'T MAKE THE ADS!!
As a cheddar G.I Joe analogy - creatives make the missiles, we aim and fire them. Yes sometimes perfectly good missiles are fired into the sea but more often than not the missile will hit but not be damaging enough. Capishe?
I think I'm going to stop here. Instead of a cons of media planning as promised I'd rather do a 'what to watch out for' type post for all of you. Feel free to ignore, pass around or comment on.
Tonight? Salmon and Arsenal.