I do not say this because I get my daily bread from the media agency business. Like many other things, marketing has turned conventional wisdom on its head. Marketing must stay relevant among other disciplines (finance, sales and human resource, to name a few) in today's enterprise and staying closest to value delivery will ensure this.
Owing to measurability of their respective contributions, the traditional rivalry between marketing and sales is now out in the open. From being an enabler, marketing is expected to play the deliverer. Seminal studies like John Philip Jones' STAS (Short Term Advertising Strength) and Long Term Effects of Advertising have tried to build accountability to hitherto fuzzy domains (remember advertising is commercial art) and marketing continues to make efforts at making science out of art.
When the left brain got left out
In the early days of advertising, it was too much of a novelty to invite any questions on width/ depth, audience/market size, how much/where/when and scores of other mundane left brain questions. When media costs rose, stakes got bigger; clients needed experts (media agencies) to answer the not-so-mundane questions. Today, in many cases the experts are called in early so feasibility analysis isn't done post facto.
Tradition and advertising
I have had the experience of working on a brand where all marketing campaigns (and media plans) happened when the creative director (a high profile creative) hit upon a Big Idea for a new TVC. The brand could either have many campaigns or no campaign in an entire year - no questions asked.
A recent client moving from B2B to B2C has been advised by the newly appointed creative agency, a TVC for national TV; even though their B2C product pipeline has just one product and it will be another 12-18 months before the next B2C product hits shelves.
Another client had the towering presence of a top Bollywood celebrity and a celebrity creative director from a top national agency for three years before we, the media partner, helped break the inertia and helped hire a new creative agency that finally delivered business results.
Times are a changing. It was heartening to see a senior client sign the film production estimate right after media strategy and plans were discussed threadbare and he was convinced of getting the TVC into the real world.
A recent source of business analysis by us helped the creative agency partner know the target audience from a business goal delivery perspective. Their creatives were far better targeted at the business goal, thereafter. And, the client was surer.
Map your road before your journey begins
All of us have heard of new age film making where every element, from screenplay to the minutest detail of every final shot/scene is vividly and meticulously planned before any shooting begins. A year or two of planning leads to three-six months of shooting across multiple locations.
Planning a marketing campaign should not be any different. Once the business and marketing objective are connected to a game plan (a marketing plan along with the media plan), the client and agency partners can start work, all guns blazing.
Imagine a media agency as lead partner sits in at a multi-agency (creative) pitch along with the client team. This has already happened on the Sun Microsystems pitch in the UK, six years back. Imagine a Touch Point Analysis and overall media strategy before any content development, which is already happening across many global brands across many major markets. Event and sport sponsorships, branded fashion shows, celebrity endorsements, in-film branding/entertainment marketing solutions, digital media solutions and integrated communication plans (where the programme concept emerges out of the media agency) - clients are routinely asking creative partners to create content after a media decision is arrived at. Imagine media and creative agency working in tandem with a 'brand comes first' rather than a 'who comes first' attitude - we are already doing this and I am sure it comes naturally to many others.
Question conventional approaches to create new paths. Trust the wisdom available in media agencies in delivering a truly holistic perspective to your marketing campaign.
(The author is EVP and national strategy director, Vizeum, a media agency from Aegis Media)