How R/GA London is bringing media into the creative world

Stephanie Walton, one of Media Week's 30 Under 30 rising stars in 2016, explains what it's like to move from New York and build a media function in a creative agency, R/GA London.

Walton: I don’t want to be “that media person”, the wet blanket to their blazing creative fire
Walton: I don’t want to be “that media person”, the wet blanket to their blazing creative fire

I sit down at my desk on my first day. All around me are Macs (my ThinkPad looks depressingly un-cool), trackpads (you can use a pen with a computer?!), manifesto printouts (is that iambic pentameter?), and the voices of people saying things like "high production value", "she’s on set today", and "find an image that’s more enigmatic."

It's my first day as a media connections planner surrounded by creative directors. I’ve moved here from the Media & Connections team at R/GA New York to start a new discipline at R/GA London. My mission? Bring media into the creative world. 

And what a mission it is. Not only is everyone around me speaking in British accents, but they’re just so… creative. 

Coming from a world of CPMs, CPAs, RFPs, ROIs, and a million other acronyms, watching creatives in their full creative-ness is both inspiring and terrifying. 

I’m in awe of the emotions they can illicit from a simple TV script and also afraid to say things like, "The minimum spend on Snapchat is $200,000," because of the huge fat wrench it would throw into the idea they’ve been working on for months. 

I don’t want to be "that media person", the wet blanket to their blazing creative fire.

But as the weeks go on, I’m struck by how interested in – I could even say hungry – these creatives are to bring media into their side of the business. 

I learn that, from where they sit, they feel shut off from how the creative they’ve slaved over goes to market. They come up with creative ideas in a void – separate from execution, performance, learning.

The media agencies are the gatekeeper to the consumer. And the media agencies don’t want to talk.

You don’t have to be in the industry long to feel the painful reality of the situation. Let’s call it "The Great Divorce" – the split that happened 30 years ago and that we are now trying to figure out how to mend. Media and creative got a divorce. One walked off with all the money, the other with all the glamour. 

Now a new digital world means we need to get back together. But how do you rejoin what’s already been separated?

That’s what I’m here to do. Get mom and dad back together.

I’ve always considered R/GA to be one of the first agencies to genuinely bring creative and tech together. So it’s exciting that now we’ve added media to the mix and figured out how to make it successful globally.

Within just a few months of moving to London, I was honoured to be in Media Week’s 30 Under 30 list of rising stars – a media person working not in a media agency or media owner but in a creative agency. 

I feel passionately we should embrace new ways of working and new ways of thinking about media. What’s really possible when media and creative happen at the same time, and what mending The Great Divorce will mean for our industry and our clients. 

Stephanie Walton is a senior connections planner at R/GA London

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