I love judging awards. It’s a great way to stay in touch with the interesting work our competitors are doing, whilst also providing real insight into how agencies are thinking and selling themselves. There is, however, a part in every media agency submission that makes me laugh. It’s the one that talks about how the big idea has been amplified across a gazillion channels. The visual usually involves the idea in the middle of a wagon wheel with all the channels on the outside showing the creative ways the idea was detonated. Phrases like ‘integration’, ‘360 degrees’, ‘POE’ (Paid, Owned and Earned for those of you haven’t seen a media strategy in the past five years) and ‘multi channel’ are used with gay abandon. It appears the overriding thought is that the more channels on the plan, the better (or more ‘integrated’) the solution.
So when it comes to media planning, apparently, channel-greed is good.
This approach seems totally contrary to what everyone in the world is saying right now. Politicians are talking about austerity, business leaders' double dip recessions and our own industry gurus lamenting the fact that they have never seen such a deflated media market. So surely in such difficult times where we need to be ultra cautious with how we invest our clients’ precious budgets, we need to take heed and focus on less being more.
What I would therefore love to see in agency awards submissions is what I consider “reductive planning”. Rather than using mass amplification as a starting point, I would love to see examples of how a brand has found a very specific audience, produced a relevant message and delivered a new revenue stream. In my little ideal world, this would include using not simply one channel, but one media. Imagine that: a complete communications plan with only programme / site / title. With that as a starting point, you have a far greater freedom to innovate because your starting point is a very precise audience, time and environment.
A perfect example of this is the campaign OMD developed for Orica Yates a few years back. They created a Party Garden show on the LifeStyle Channel that showcased and sold all of the client’s products within a relevant piece of content. Simple, targeted, and results-oriented. Brilliant.
So if we are all trying to deliver genuine ROI for our clients, then we would do well to deliver solutions that are reductive and not amplified. Come on MFA, select me as a judge. Please.