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(Image from Visual Spacial on Flickr)

Hell, what if account Planners got involved too?

Rory Sutherland posed this question on his blog within Brand Republic. I don’t know if you have to be a user to access it, so here’s a snippet or two…

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WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF YOU LET THE CREATIVE DEPARTMENT SPEND THE MEDIA BUDGET?

This to me is the great unasked question of our age. And I have a fairly good idea what the answer is. But it isn’t quite what you expect.

The Cannes Direct Lions shortlist has not yet been published. But, without giving anything away, I can reveal that it contains quite a few entries in which are found lines like this….
“One million downloads”….”garnered PR coverage worth 1.5 times the initial media outlay”… “headed the country’s podcast charts for five consective weeks”….”1.5m unique visitors to the site….”

Now what would happen – just as an experiment – if you took the whole media budget and gave it to a creative department to spend how they wished?

My final verdict? Three times out of four they would fare worse at spending the media money than the media people. But the fourth time they would do ten times better.

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That’s a a horribly hacked and reduced version of what he said – it really is worth reading it yourself to get the full intent and surrounding commentary, but it’s an interesting question, isn’t it?

One of the things that is shifting at the moment (among many!) is the strategic importance of the media planners – as fragmentation has made the media landscape both frighteningly complex and superbly exciting, the need for someone to navigate through and ‘find’ your audience has become ever more valuable. At the same time, the majority of creative agencies have let (or pushed) their media departments out on their own. That’s not all bad – there are media agencies who still work really well with creative agencies, but there’s also a loss of connectedness. And, more importantly, there’s a sequence thing that has an enormous impact – can you really claim media-neutral ideas when the media agency developed the media plan independently and probably a month before the creative idea was even discovered?

And, so, do we need to find a way to return media thinking to the idea generation process. Sorry, that sounds like marketing BS! What I mean is, do we need to be more open with our media thinking – what if we did counsel the creative teams for thoughts on it? And the planners/account people who are working on it. In co-operation with the media company – but never before the creative idea had actually emerged! We’d need time and that’s a commodity that we don’t have. We’d need to be pretty laid back about the ‘roles’ each agency is playing (this wouldn’t work if there was a little power struggle for recognition going on at the same time, would it!). But it could be interesting…

Rory Sutherland has been at Ogilvy since 1988 – for that alone, he is remarkable (in an industry that sees little loyalty like that), but he’s also a rather smart fella – worth reading his blogs…