Media Perspective: Finally, we get to see what 'engagement planning' means

Reports of Kevin Brown's antics have been rather thin on the ground since he rejoined Bartle Bogle Hegarty's ranks in late 2005 as its head of engagement planning. But judging by last week's news that Vodafone is developing a new outdoor advertising strategy, it seems that Brown has, in fact, been rolling his sleeves up.

Brown's department, along with the rest of BBH, has been working with Vodafone and its media agencies OMD UK and Kinetic on a new approach to its communications. Dominic Chambers, the head of brand and marketing at Vodafone UK, explains: "We have revised our approach to media in a very comprehensive way. We are going to be more selective in using each medium to its best effect."

Vodafone has been working on introducing a more clearly defined role for TV, outdoor and online within its communications. Of course, some of it is stating the obvious, such as refining TV's contribution to the brand, but the conclusions could make for some rather interesting results.

In outdoor, for instance, the insistence that the medium be used to engage customers with various product propositions has led to the solution that Vodafone needs to commit to a permanent "holding" of around 1,000 sites. The creative challenge, and then the media challenge, for the outdoor contractors and the specialists is to provide constantly altering messages that hit consumers at exactly the right time.

What I liked about this was the appreciation of the role of each medium in the strategy. And the fact that the strategy involves a commitment to mass media, albeit in a targeted way, and doesn't seem too obsessed with the current vogue for consumers creating the message. In this case, the client and his agencies are definitely leading the process, but are still managing to emphasise engagement with customers.

For instance, outdoor, on which Vodafone spends a significant £19 million, seems very much to be operating as a "push" mechanism to get frequent offer and service messages out to customers. Then online has been targeted by Chambers and his agency teams as the "bridge" to build stronger relationships with customers (this has already been a success with initiatives such as the Vodafone TBA live music events that involve customers in the brand and content creation).

It's not especially revolutionary, but it seems to me to be a good example of a client getting the most out of its agencies and of the media idea and the creative message blurring together seamlessly. In theory, at least. Now it's up to BBH to deliver consistently with the creative - no easy task now that the agency is responsible for the entirety of Vodafone's £58 million spend and the breadth of messages that come with that. It's not just Brown who will be busy.