The various stages through which a media plan evolves within an agency are quite complex. They will vary from agency to agency, and within agencies, from account to account. The variations will depend on the size of the problem to be tackled, the agency’s organization and its relations with its clients. The following figure illustrates the sequence, which will be followed, more or less, in the planning of most large campaigns conducted by sophisticated advertising agencies on behalf of the sophisticated clients.
The initial planning meeting is usually a large one and will comprise senior people working on the account, and possibly the agency management: the account director and his team, and creative and media personnel will take part. In some cases the client may be represented. The purpose of this meeting is formally to evaluate the current progress of the brand, and its market, and the intentions for the period under review (usually the following financial year). The end product of the meeting should be a draft marketing strategy, which outlines the way in which the agency feels the brand’s targets should best be achieved.
This draft will then be thrashed out with the client, the agency being represented possibly by the management, certainly by the account team. When approved, the marketing objectives from the basis of both creative and media work.
At the next stage the creative and media departments work separately, although it is necessary for them to confer together as frequently as possible. The media plan for the current year will be critically examined for its strengths and weaknesses and the evidence of any available media tests considered. Changes that have taken place in the media scene since the current plan was developed, together with necessary changes in strategy flowing from changed marketing objectives, will be discussed. Most importantly, the likely effect on the media choice of the basic creative appeals, which are being developed, will be taken into account. Creative requirements likely to have a critical effect on the media plan are clearly those of movement and colour. It is likely at this stage that the account team will be in fairly constant touch with both the creative and media departments. Indeed Stephen King has argued very eloquently that there really can be no chicken and egg in the creative media situation; both have to evolve together. From this view has sprung the title of Campaign Planner, although the function he fulfils varies from agency to agency. Media planning, atleast in broad-brush strokes is always part of his assignment; and he may also be concerned with account handling, research and the creative input.
From these vital deliberations will flow draft media and creative strategies. These will be submitted to the client for his approval and it is usual for those who have been involved in their creation to be present to argue their case. Once these basic strategies have been approved, detailed work can commence. At this stage it is still necessary for media and creative personnel to cork closely together, since a vital factor for discussion will be size of the space, or length of time, which is required to carry the advertising message. The bulk of media planner’s task is now concerned with the accumulation and analysis of data. It is sufficient to say here that whether a model is used to assist in the production of a plan or not, similar procedures have to be gone through. The principal differences arise because the computer is able to consider may more variables at one time than a planner can without its assistance. For the use of a media model, all judgments have to be quantified.
From a computer printout, or from his own calculations, the planner will now have a series of media vehicles, together with number of insertions in each of them. To turn this into a schedule, he needs to consider the spread of the campaign over time; he will then embody the whole of his thinking into a proposal, for submission to the agency plans board. When this hurdle has been cleared, the total package, usually in the form of a document containing the full campaign plan, marketing, media and creative, together with ancillary recommendations for perhaps research and merchandising, will be presented to the client. The agency presentation team will usually include agency management, together with all senior personnel who have been responsible for creating the plan. Once it is agreed, the schedule is returned to the media department for buying.
Of course, if at any stage during the development of the plan there is a rejection, then the re-cycling process has to start and everyone has to try again. The advantage of obtaining client approval of strategies is that the problem is broken down into manageable portions. If the client sees nothing until he sees the final plan, he may well find himself in disagreement with the original marketing strategy, and much time will have been wasted.
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