Creatives and strategists need to work together

In order to create an effective advertising message, good communication between media planning and creative agencies is key, says Karen Blackett

Total communication planning is the latest concept buzzing around the media industry, and a number of clients have already embraced this idea. In order to deliver a powerful advertising message to a target market, creative work and a media strategy need to complement each other. Who wouldn’t want this from their agencies? So why is it that there is resistance from some creative and media agencies, which prevents them from working together?

As far as I’m aware, the last time I looked in a mirror I hadn’t grown an extra limb; I had only one head; I spoke English and – despite years of over indulgence – my brain still functions very well and has an understanding of consumer behaviour and media. I think this is the same for most media planners. So why is it that some creative agencies still want to keep us in the dark, or have us removed from the communication process?

Ultimately, we’re all assessed by our clients according to how well we perform. Have we met our clients business objectives? Did we generate enough awareness for a campaign? Did we improve sales and change customer perceptions of a product? A media strategy working at odds with the creative message won’t work effectively – no matter how much is spent. It’s time to tear down the defences and share our expertise.

My own agency works with a number of creative agencies of various sizes, from start-ups to companies that have worked in the industry for a long time. The degree to which we work with them varies. And the best advertising solutions have always been created when media planners and creative agencies brainstorm ideas together. No prejudices are allowed to enter the “creativity” room; all ideas must be media neutral.

Market research, past campaign knowledge, and insight all act as a catalyst for ideas. The creation of aluminium posters for the Audi A2 (the world’s first mass-produced aluminium car) is one example of what the client felt was an inspiring communications solution. MediaCom and BBH worked together to create this – all egos and territorial roles were left outside the door.

I entered the industry as a media planner, but more frequently my role is to formulate an overall communications plan with our creative partners. “Media experiences” form a central part of consumer qualitative focus groups at MediaCom. How a consumer’s relationship with a brand is affected by the media vehicle through which they experience it is integral to any communication process. What’s the point of generating a highly creative ad if we’re not putting it in the right place?

Nobody is trying to takeover anyone’s role; we simply want to produce the best work for our clients. Then everyone’s happy. It’s not hard is it?

Karen Blackett is a board director at MediaCom

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