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Media Planner of the Year 2020: Mike Florence

He raised his game in 2019 by launching new tools and contributing to thought leadership.

Media Planner of the Year 2020: Mike Florence

Chief strategy officer, PHD UK

The craft of media planning is in fine fettle in UK advertising, to judge by the high-class shortlist for this category.

Florence, the winner a year ago, stood out because he raised his game again in 2019. The judges enthused about his "creativity", "thought leadership" and "delivery for clients", plus "strong testimonials" from clients and peers.

Of particular note, he launched two offerings: a mental availability measurement tool and an investment planner budget allocation tool. Florence looked at the concept of mental availability after taking inspiration from marketing guru Byron Sharp’s book How Brands Grow and exploring the way that increased awareness and salience can boost a brand’s commercial performance. His Discovery insight team worked with marketing science experts at UCL to create a scoring system out of 100 for four measures of mental availability: emotional connection, distinctiveness, context and need states.

Argos, one of PHD’s biggest clients, was one of the first to try the mental availability tool and it had a significant impact. The retailer took a new creative approach for its homewares range by running a campaign called "So stylish you could wear it" and recorded increases in consideration and sales.

The mental availability tool won the Research Insight category at Campaign’s Media Week Awards 2019, and Omnicom-owned PHD is talking to more than a dozen clients about using it.

The investment planner tool, meanwhile, collected more than 1,800 market mix models to help clients demonstrate the commercial returns on media spend before it had even been committed. Several major UK clients went on to add "incremental spend" by linking advertising inputs with business outcomes, according to PHD.

Florence has made other contributions to his agency and the wider industry: from working on new-business pitches in London and Manchester to playing a leading role in Magnetic’s "Pay Attention" research relating to the value of context in magazine media planning.

Florence’s "competitive spirit" is "one of the drivers of his consistent high performance and on-going energy", according to Verica Djurdjevic, chief executive of PHD UK.

The judges concluded that Florence was their clear pick for best media planner. "Mike is rightly regarded as a giant among planners and his contribution to thought leadership in the industry, as well as for his clients, bears this out," one of the judges said, explaining why he should retain his title.

Runners-up

Paddy Adams

Chief strategy officer, Manning Gottlieb OMD

It is clear that Adams is "a great creative thinker, strategist and well-rounded planner focused on the value that media planning can bring to clients", the judges said, noting how he has invested in developing training and tools for the agency.

Adams leads MG OMD Consult, a 40-strong planning team, and is one of the driving forces behind Think. Make. Do – a training programme made up of different modules that focus on creativity of thought, idea creation and storytelling.

He played a leading role in helping to retain Virgin Media and in delivering the UK government’s advertising, after "onboarding" the account at the end of 2018. He also oversees MG OMD’s awards entries, so deserves credit for helping the agency to pick up 33 industry prizes for clients such as John Lewis and Specsavers during the year.

As the judges put it: "Paddy demonstrated great, steady leadership."

Verra Budimlija

Chief strategy officer, Wavemaker UK

"Purchase journey" planning has been a key part of Budimlija’s strategic offer for clients for years, and it paid off in 2019 as Wavemaker won £100m of new business, including Eurostar, Heathrow and William Hill.

She has also been instrumental in infusing greater creative thinking across the WPP media shop.

Budimlija launched "WOW makers", a bespoke training programme to empower staff with creative skills, and arranged dozens of sessions with media-owner partners. That led directly to innovative ideas for Wavemaker clients, including Screwfix and Vodafone, during the past 12 months.

The judges liked Budimlija’s "refreshing" approach and suggested she has an opportunity to make a greater contribution to the wider industry.

Vicky Fox

Chief planning officer, OMD UK

Fox and her Connections Planning team had a strong 2019, including making the shortlist for best agency team at the Campaign Media Awards.

She believes marketers "really care" about media planning and she made an impact both inside OMD UK and beyond. Fox delivered for existing clients such as Barclays – moving the bank into addressable TV with a campaign on Sky’s AdSmart to target light viewers – and easyJet, working with VCCP to create "shared" family media moments to encourage holiday-booking.

Her team developed a planning process, OMD Design, which focuses on craft and empathy, in 2018 and they helped to roll it out across OMD’s global network last year. Fox also showed leadership by working with the Advertising Association to highlight the issue of excessive frequency and bombardment.

The judges described her as "inspiring", "thorough" and "effective" – with some "lovely case studies".

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