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Four ways to win when it comes to TV planning

Ahead of the Thinkbox TV Planning Awards 2019, Paddy Adams, chief strategy officer, and Clare Peters, chief business strategist at Manning Gottlieb OMD reveal what it takes to win - and keep on winning - over the years

Grand Prix 2016: Client: Age UK Award Best use of TV and... / Grand Prix ‘Telling the real story of Christmas to tackle loneliness’
Grand Prix 2016: Client: Age UK Award Best use of TV and... / Grand Prix ‘Telling the real story of Christmas to tackle loneliness’

The Thinkbox TV Planning Awards have always held a special place in Manning Gottlieb OMD’s heart. We love them for their passionate celebration of great TV planning. We love them because they make us think about our own planning differently and make us push ourselves further every year. But we also love them because we’ve had a pretty good run of success over the years. And at the risk of jinxing ourselves for this year, we think we have a fairly solid idea of what it takes to win. 

We looked back over the 14 wins and four Grand Prix that MG OMD has picked up since 2008 and highlighted four themes that make it look as if we had a plan all along: 

# 1 Get off to a great start
By which we mean get lucky. If you’re lucky enough to work on some great brands, with great clients who trust you to go beyond the norm, with great creative partners (whether in ad agencies or in-house – hi Specsavers), and great media owner relationships, then you’ve got a head start. Make sure you don’t fuck it up by being uncollaborative or difficult (or worse, pedestrian) and you’re halfway there already. 

# 2 Don’t stop at the spot
We all know how important TV is in shaping culture and the intrinsic role it plays in most of our lives, so try to replicate that with campaigns. Firstly, we always push to integrate with the culture of TV – whether that’s through presenters, editorial or programming – and then we focus on integrating the on-screen activity into people’s everyday lives.

Our work for Age UK is a great example of this. We’ve had our ad launched by ITV’s Good Morning Britain, we’ve partnered with Channel 4 to create a special Christmas edition of Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, and when we partnered with John Lewis & Partners on its "Man on the Moon" ad, we even had a tea party at No. 10 Downing Street. 

# 3 Think about the broadcasters’ other "real estate"
This may sound slightly counter-intuitive but some of our best and most innovative work has come from focusing on TV channels’ own real estate rather than the TVC. That means thinking about the owned assets the broadcasters have that can be adapted, hijacked and tinkered with to make our advertising more noticeable and memorable.

One great example was the launch of Sony’s PS4 in 2013 and the takeover of the iconic Channel 4 logo idents, which, until then, had been sacred. The game developers worked with Channel 4 and The Outfit to actually re-build the logo using game footage from their studios in Amsterdam.

Another was our ‘advertising on-demand’ work with Sky and John Lewis & Partners’ "Buster the Boxer" campaign. Owning an advertising tile on Sky’s EPG landing page on launch day was a real coup and a first for everyone involved. 

# 4 Try to deconstruct the plan
The Thinkbox TV Planning Awards give you carte blanche to show off your rigour, planning flair and implementational excellence. So, don’t be shy. Sometimes the seemingly obvious and straightforward can create real shifts and make a damn good read.

A good example of this was for Specsavers in 2015. Our entire strategy was built on deconstructing the plan and re-building it from the ground up. We obsessed about creating marginal gains at every opportunity and with every penny we spent. It wasn’t about a seismic shift or a big, set-piece idea but it led to huge savings, better planning and a more effective plan. Often the small things really do make a big difference. 

We like to think that all of the above is good advice for TV planning in general (and Thinkbox awards in particular), but obviously it’s all meaningless unless it actually delivers a business result for the client. In every case our TV planning led to demonstrable business success for our clients, which ultimately has to be more important than awards recognition. Just.

Entries for the Thinkbox TV Planning Awards are closed for 2019. For more information visit here.

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