Media planning/market research challengeExercise illuminates processIn this special report, eight media planners have created a phase one media plan for a non-existent value added service called Body Guard.The object is to show how the media planning process works through a simulated...

Media planning/market research challenge

Exercise illuminates process

In this special report, eight media planners have created a phase one media plan for a non-existent value added service called Body Guard.

The object is to show how the media planning process works through a simulated real-life exercise.

Each of the participants was provided a detailed brief outlining the client’s marketing case history (see ‘The client’ left).

They were told the client had a strong media bias and was particularly interested in media solutions outside of the conventional magazines, newspapers, television and radio.

The client, they were told, wanted to see value added examples of reaching the target market.

To add another perspective to the challenge, Strategy asked eight market researchers to pretend they had been ‘leaked’ the Body Guard brief.

Each was asked to determine Ñ based on market research available to them Ñ whether the Body Guard concept was viable.

The responses from both groups of participants appear in separate sections.

Media planning submissions start on page 13 and continue to page 20.

Submissions from the market research firms start on page 23 and continue to page 30.

The client

The client is a mid-sized Canadian life insurance company with its headquarters in southeastern Ontario.

While not considered a major player in the insurance business, the company is a respected and venerable member of the Canadian financial services establishment, having opened its doors in Kingston, Ont. in the late 1800s.

The company has maintained a strong and loyal franchise through several generations of solid and conservative business management.

A crossroads

Up until the past decade, the company has experienced steady, but certainly not spectacular, growth. Since the mid-1980s, however, things have changed.

The bulk of its business, life insurance premiums, have been in a slow and gradual decline.

Not only has the company found it hard to attract new clients, but for the first time, it has seen a significant migration of its existing policyholders to other insurance companies.

The basis of the company’s success, and the foundation upon which it has flourished for more than a century, is its reputation as a solid and dependable institution.

This image and the close customer relationships the company has managed to maintain have been the company’s core equity.

Results of a recent study into its problems showed the company, to its pleasant surprise, that its image of conservatism and reliability remain a distinct asset, among its existing clientele and potential new customers.

The company’s target market – which skews towards 35 years-plus, equally men and women – are Canadians who still like to think of their insurance company as a sober and cautious institution.

However, they are being lured away by other insurers who are offering all kinds of ‘added-value’ products.

The company is losing out to them not because of dissatisfaction with its own products or service, but because its competitors have been seen to be going a little bit further.

What has changed is that while Canadians are predisposed towards conservatism, this is no longer enough to make them want to do business.

The company knows it must do something to revitalize its image without detracting from it.


A new marketing director has been brought on board to shake things up.

After studying the problem carefully, and after months of brainstorming, the marketer has come up with an idea.

The company has created a new added-value service called Body Guard.

It is aimed at many of the company’s customers who travel to the southern u.s. during winter.

The product addresses their growing concern with personal safety, especially in the Florida area.

Here is how it works:

The company is positioning the service as a special added-value program that is provided free of charge to policyholders.

If you are planning a holiday in the u.s., you simply call in to the company, ask for Body Guard and then punch in your policy number.

Your call is then forwarded to the Body Guard Centre, and an interactive dialogue is established between you and the service.

You can select any location in the u.s. by pressing a series of telephone keyboard commands.

Once you have selected a destination, you will be automatically mailed a complete dossier on the location from the perspective of personal safety.

The dossier includes such items as:

- an overall personal safety rating for the location;

- warnings on specific areas to avoid;

- personal safety dos and don’ts for the destination.

In addition, Body Guard has set up a service arrangement with all car rental agencies that guarantees that any car rented by a member of Body Guard will automatically have any car rental identification removed from the vehicle. (Tourists in Florida, identified by robbers through their car rental stickers, have been mugged and killed.)

Rental agencies will also provide Body Guard members with a ‘survival kit,’ which includes a Mace-like defence spray and a high-pitched aerosol-based alarm canister.

Also included in the dossier is a ‘lifestyle’ profile that is derived from the policyholder’s personal file.

The ‘lifestyle’ profile is customized to each individual and provides such advice as:

- a personalized diet plan, including types of foods the person should be eating and where to find them;

- local environmental conditions that might present a particular risk to the individual, such as sun exposure and air and water quality, and tips on how to deal with them;

- the kinds of entertainment and local attractions the person would likely enjoy and where these can be found.

In short, the package provides a complete, customized service aimed at minimizing personal safety fears.

At the moment, the client is considering the umbrella statement ‘We want you alive’ as a theme-line for any creative that would be used to promote Body Guard.

The challenge

The marketing director, who comes from a packaged goods background, has a strong media bias.

The director’s personal belief is that the media plan should drive the communications program.

The director’s point of view could be summed up this way: find the consumer first, identify the most efficient and effective means of reaching that consumer, and then develop the appropriate message.

It has been some time since the marketing director has worked directly with an ad agency. The marketing director is returning to a hands-on marketing role after several years of working on strictly corporate work.

The director is particularly interested in hearing about new ideas on how to use media outside of the conventional magazines, television, radio and newspapers.

The director would love to see examples of so-called ‘added-value’ ideas in reaching the target market.

What the client wants

You are one of several media firms that have been asked to submit a phase one proposal.

The objective is simply to get the message out to current and potential clients of the existence of Body Guard.

The tone of the message should be: ‘Here is an innovative idea from a great Canadian institution. Just because we’ve been around a long time doesn’t mean we’re not inventive and, ultimately, customer-oriented. You can have dependability and innovation, too.’

The target audience is widespread, concentrated mostly along the Windsor, Ont.-to-Montreal corridor.

It is about 50% male and female, and tends to be more small-town than urban, although a reasonable percentage of policyholders are from the large urban centres.

However, they are mainly conservative, traditional people, and English-speaking.

At least half are retired, but they represent a huge asset base. The average policyholder has an estate value of $750,000.

The client’s mind is wide open. There are no pre-conceived ideas.

The director wants to see the kind of thinking that is available in the media planning and buying community. The director wants to see creative media concepts and ideas, not gross rating points.

The client assumes the companies that have been invited into this pitch have the necessary people and facilities to execute a competent media buy.

Really, all the client wants to see is a strategic plan – ideas and thinking.