Strategy First, Please

When an advertiser has an energetic agency that’s really involved in the business, there’ll be some amazing creative ideas. But no matter how good, these ideas will only build the brand in the marketplace if they’re deployed effectively in the media.

Unfortunately, the media is a complicated animal for an advertiser to understand. First, we need to try and comprehend AMPS, LSMs, ARs and CPPs. Then we have to deal with the huge growth in the number of media options available (I was recently sent a proposal to advertise on the inside of take-away pizza boxes!). So it’s a godsend that good help is available in the experienced media planner.

Calling in that planner before briefing the creative is simple logic: decide whom you’re going to talk to before you decide what you’re going to say. In our business (the airline business) it wouldn’t make much sense deciding on our aircraft paint scheme and the design of our staff uniforms before deciding on where we’re going to fly.

Besides, most of the budget is going to be spent in the media – or should be, anyway. We aim for a media to production ratio of at least 80:20. If we’re not achieving this, we may well be spending a lot of money on advertising that nobody’s seeing. Too many great ads have had most of their flighting take place on the boardroom wall. So if you’re spending 80 percent of your bucks on media, shouldn’t media get 80 percent of your attention?

A good marketing strategy starts with a good understanding of the target market. Right up front, the media planner needs to explain what media this target market consumes. Not only that, but also what media the competition is using to talk to the market. Throw in your budget constraints, some number crunching and analysis and you have the ingredients of a solid media plan.


As in any successful business venture, coordination of the various disciplines and a joint focus on common objectives is crucial. The advertiser, creative team, and media experts need to be working in unison. That way the advertiser can expect an efficient communication campaign that strikes the target at the right place, at the right time, with the right message.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

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