When I catch clips of Mad Men it takes me back to my early days in the advertising industry. The media process was fairly straight forward, the client wanted to be on TV, the creative guys wanted to create TV so the media department costed out TV.
The media department, mainly women, was located far away from the creative floor, which housed eccentric personalities with offices filled with random pieces of furniture and objects; in some cases no furniture at all, as it hindered the creative process. Media folk didn’t speak with creative folk directly; everything was routed through the account people.
PMB research was located in a small dark office far away from the media department, and the information accessed via microfiche. We would spend hours pulling consumer habits, but generally this served to inform creative treatment, not media selection. Again, TV was the channel of choice and TV productions a much anticipated client and agency perk.
I remember developing a media plan for a packaged goods client entering year 2 of a new product launch. We determined that out of home was needed to help fulfill the marketing objectives. The media plan was presented at which time the creative team advised they had not made arrangements for out of home treatments with the talent, so we needed to revise.
As the media landscape began to change and audiences became more fragmented, agencies and clients started to recognize the need to better understand their audience, not only to craft creative treatments that would resonate, but also to actually put those messages in front of the audience. Research tools became more user friendly, data collection more robust and media departments began to have an equal seat at the client table.
With the mainstream integration of the internet into every facet of life, the introduction of social media and the ever changing face of media technology, the empowered consumer had to be recognized. Successful media plans were built around the consumer not the product, and the creative treatment integrated across multiple media channels.
The best media plans begin media neutral and the best creative platforms translate into any medium.
Today we allow the consumer to guide us, and sometimes you end up in places you never imagined. But, oh what exciting places those can be!