Why do we all get so excited about who does or doesn’t do media
planning? In the last week alone, there have been big stories in
Campaign and elsewhere concerning Unilever and Heinz. In the case of
Ammirati Puris Lintas and Initiative, an all-out head-to-head struggle
seems to be taking place, particularly since Martin Puris spoke in
favour of media planning staying within the creative agency and hired
Paul Woolmington to make his point.
This news was preceded by Martin Sorrell’s statement on the future of
WPP media, which intimated that media planning would stay with his
creative agencies, and was followed by the Abbott Mead Vickers move on
Pattison Horswell Durden. There is scarcely an agency chief in town who
is not wrestling with the problem at present.
One reason lies in a piece of research: Universum, the Swedish Research
Institute’s annual European Graduate Survey, which identified the
companies that European students would like to join upon graduation. The
list, topped by McKinsey, the Boston Consulting Group, and Andersen
Consulting, included Procter and Gamble, Nestle and Unilever, and was
stuffed full of hi-tech companies. No ad agencies were in sight.
Compared with consultancies, agencies are seen to be well down the food
chain of influence, despite reasonable salaries. This is a view from the
outside, which those on the inside know to be true. Furthermore, with
clients now viewed as developing closer relationships with their media
advisors - who are after all the guardians of their purse strings, the
physical location of the media planner takes on a still greater
As agencies try to reclaim the higher ground by positioning themselves
as the guardian of the idea, it becomes obvious how much more difficult
this becomes if the message comes down the line - er, it’s a 30 and a
ten with some dps’s. Expect to see more and more creative agencies hire
their own heavyweight media planners.