THE BOOK OF LISTS: The 10 best media planners

The 10 best media planners as voted for by Campaign. Winner: Naked


Planning agencies clearly have to launch as power trios. Jon Wilkins, John Harlow and Will Collin (l-r) are the much-feted threesome in this case. Carpers say that much of their work is stunt oriented but there's no doubt they've caught the imagination of big clients and put strategic planning at the top of the agenda.

2. SUE UNERMAN, director of strategic solutions, MediaCom

... and joint architect of its massive Masterfoods win this year. Concerned readers have, in the past, called to express their perplexity at the fact that Sue Unerman often seems to be missing from Campaign's media planner hit parades. Well, yes, it's true. In its defence, though, Campaign would like to point out that Sue is responsible for developing a strategic technique called Real World Planning - so we naturally assumed this had nothing whatsoever to do with media or advertising.

3. IVAN POLLARD, managing partner, Unity

Pollard was the dog's bollocks at BMP but of Unity's three musketeers (Andy Tilley's still there, Derek Morris has now moved on to Publicis) he's managed to maintain the lowest profile. Recently, however, people have been rediscovering the Pollard effect. He is the archetypal lateral-thinking planner, offering brilliant flashes of "outside the box" insight and ideas.

4. GERRY BOYLE, managing partner, Zenith Media

For more than a decade, going right back to its launch in 1988, the top brass at Zenith have always insisted that the operation is a lot more than a discount warehouse shed in Paddington. Strangely, despite the quality of some of the planners who've passed through over the years, no-one's ever really believed them. Until the advent of Boyle, that is. These days he's just the most senior of a number of excellent planers dispersed among Zenith's client-facing account groups. Boyle, his fans say, offers just the right balance between the intellectual and insightful side of things on the one hand and, on the other, the sort of pragmatic and practical approach that will make a difference at a big media operation such as Zenith.

5. JAMES JENNINGS, joint managing director, BJK&E

Is it harder or easier for a sharp planning mind to make an impact at a smaller agency? Whatever -- a surprising number of media people (rival agencies as well as media owners) mention Jennings. According to one source, his great strength is that he questions absolutely everything. Someone once accused him of being a pedant, a suggestion that Jennings reacted strongly against, stating that he was not, in fact, a person who insisted on strict formal rules or literal meaning at the expense of a wider view, nor was he a person who rated academic learning or technical knowledge above all else.

6. PETER EDWARDS, business director, Starcom Motive

Clients treasure Peter for his ability to speak in plain English - a rarity among planners. He combines a strong strategic and planning head with an ability to root it firmly in what is achievable and can directly drive the client's business.

7. BEN HAYES, media strategy director, Manning Gottlieb OMD

Outside the confines of Mannign Gottlieb OMD, not much is known about Hayes, largely because he is chronically shy. He's said to be a bit like an Aborigine or a Bush Man of the Kalahari in that he's thought to believe that if he has his picture taken, he will lose a bit of his soul. This is probably a manifestation of extreme cleverness - because everyone agrees that he is Extremely Clever. "He has a capacity to see things in a way that other people don't," one admirer said.

8. MARK PALMER, managing partner, OMD

If there's one way in which Palmer stands out from the rest, it's in his passion and commitment. If you're a client with Palmer on your case you know he's going to live and breathe your product. He's going to believe in it. He's going to interrogate it within an inch of its life. This is not an easy ride. Sometimes it can be scary. But it works.

9. GEORGE MICHAELIDES, founder, Michaelides & Bednash

One of the first media strategists (a description he hates) and still one of the best nurturers of the discipline, as M&B's Best Campaign award for Channel 4 Cricket Indian Summer at this year's Campaign Media Awards attests.

10. JONATHAN DURDEN, chairman, PHD Group

... and chairman of this year's Campaign Media Awards. He's still there. Two years ago he was the Grandfather of planning. Last year he was Old Testament Patriarch of planning. This year, we can't really think of anything that's even older, yet tangibly still with us in an awe-inspiring and inspirational sort of a way.

If you have an opinion on this or any other issue raised on Brand Republic, join the debate in the Forum here.


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