It says how long I’ve been at Campaign that I remember the fuss
that went round the industry five-and-a-half years ago when Campaign
printed the story that Andy Tilley was joining Zenith as its secret new
planning weapon - the man to give it the strategic credibility to go
with its undoubt-ed buying credibility.
In those days our view of the world was more creativity-led (we had a
sort of ’flat earth’ approach to media, you could say), and there was
general scepticism that the story deserved the prominence it was given.
In the end, after some debate among the staff, there was a grudging
concession that while media planning wasn’t as sexy as a good creative
story, the fact that a) Zenith was obviously serious about strategy and
planning and b) that planner was Tilley, meant the story merited more
than a token paragraph or two.
How things have changed. These days media strategy is a sexy - not to
say vital - business to be in. Top media planning is as hot a news item
as any. Media planning account moves make big news. For example, in the
same week we reported Tilley’s decision to leave Zenith (Campaign, 25
April), we carried a front-page story on Britvic’s decision to move its
entire pounds 15 million media planning and strategy account to
Michaelides and Bednash.
The interesting thing about M&B is that it doesn’t buy - it just does
the thinking - and its success suggests there is a ready market for such
At the time of its launch, though, there were many who poo-pooed the
idea. ’Clients don’t need that kind of service and they certainly won’t
pay for it,’ the big buying shops cried. ’Besides, we give it away for
free - well, more or less anyway. In any case, how can they possibly
give strategic advice if they’re not in the market buying spots?’
No doubt there will be a similar view about the new Tilley, Morris,
Pollard outfit. But to take this view is to look at modern marketing
life through the wrong end of the telescope. These are the reactionaries
who regard media as the end of the advertising process - a case of
dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on the grand strategic plan. The
trouble with this approach is that by the time the clients get to see
their media planner they may already have embarked on the wrong
What M&B and the Tilley gang have grasped is that clients increasingly
see media as the beginning of the marketing process - the grand canvas
on which you can paint the big strategic picture. That is why an
objective advisor - not tied into buying a particular type of plan - is
so necessary at the front end of the process.
Of course, there will be many who think there is no mileage in this
But if that is so, just ask yourself why the management consultants are
sniffing round this area so keenly - and why, increasingly, agencies are
looking over their shoulder at them.