PERSPECTIVE: Tilley plan is to put media right at the heart of marketing

It says how long I’ve been at Campaign that I remember the fuss that went round the industry five-and-a-half years ago when Campaign printed the story that Andy Tilley was joining Zenith as its secret new planning weapon - the man to give it the strategic credibility to go with its undoubt-ed buying credibility.

It says how long I’ve been at Campaign that I remember the fuss

that went round the industry five-and-a-half years ago when Campaign

printed the story that Andy Tilley was joining Zenith as its secret new

planning weapon - the man to give it the strategic credibility to go

with its undoubt-ed buying credibility.



In those days our view of the world was more creativity-led (we had a

sort of ’flat earth’ approach to media, you could say), and there was

general scepticism that the story deserved the prominence it was given.

In the end, after some debate among the staff, there was a grudging

concession that while media planning wasn’t as sexy as a good creative

story, the fact that a) Zenith was obviously serious about strategy and

planning and b) that planner was Tilley, meant the story merited more

than a token paragraph or two.



How things have changed. These days media strategy is a sexy - not to

say vital - business to be in. Top media planning is as hot a news item

as any. Media planning account moves make big news. For example, in the

same week we reported Tilley’s decision to leave Zenith (Campaign, 25

April), we carried a front-page story on Britvic’s decision to move its

entire pounds 15 million media planning and strategy account to

Michaelides and Bednash.



The interesting thing about M&B is that it doesn’t buy - it just does

the thinking - and its success suggests there is a ready market for such

an offering.



At the time of its launch, though, there were many who poo-pooed the

idea. ’Clients don’t need that kind of service and they certainly won’t

pay for it,’ the big buying shops cried. ’Besides, we give it away for

free - well, more or less anyway. In any case, how can they possibly

give strategic advice if they’re not in the market buying spots?’



No doubt there will be a similar view about the new Tilley, Morris,

Pollard outfit. But to take this view is to look at modern marketing

life through the wrong end of the telescope. These are the reactionaries

who regard media as the end of the advertising process - a case of

dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on the grand strategic plan. The

trouble with this approach is that by the time the clients get to see

their media planner they may already have embarked on the wrong

course.



What M&B and the Tilley gang have grasped is that clients increasingly

see media as the beginning of the marketing process - the grand canvas

on which you can paint the big strategic picture. That is why an

objective advisor - not tied into buying a particular type of plan - is

so necessary at the front end of the process.



Of course, there will be many who think there is no mileage in this

approach.



But if that is so, just ask yourself why the management consultants are

sniffing round this area so keenly - and why, increasingly, agencies are

looking over their shoulder at them.