Sellers declare Leo Burnett tops

In a confidential poll of about 200 media sellers, the media buying department of Toronto-based Leo Burnett Company was declared Best Media Operation.Competitors Initiative Media, Optimedia, McKim Media Group and Ogilvy & Mather, all of Toronto, placed second through fifth, respectively.In...

In a confidential poll of about 200 media sellers, the media buying department of Toronto-based Leo Burnett Company was declared Best Media Operation.

Competitors Initiative Media, Optimedia, McKim Media Group and Ogilvy & Mather, all of Toronto, placed second through fifth, respectively.

In the same exercise, media sellers voted for the best media planner/buyer in their respective mediums.

David Cairns, president of David Cairns and Company Media Management, Tammy Silney, vice-president and director of broadcast media at DDB Needham, and Cindy Drown, broadcast manager at Cossette Communication-Marketing, tied for Best in Broadcast.

Darryl Nicholson, a media planning supervisor at Initiative Media, was declared Best in Print.

And, Aileen Grant, associate media director at McKim Media Group, was voted Best in Outdoor.

In a separate exercise – a poll of senior media executives -Sunni Boot, senior vice-president and managing director at Toronto-based media buying firm Optimedia, was voted Best Media Director.

Sue Jaffe, senior vice-president and media director at Toronto-based SMW Advertising, came second in that poll, while Terry Sheehy, senior vice-president, media services at this year’s Best Media Operation Leo Burnett, followed in third.

The selection process we used to identify Strategy’s Best Media Operation and individual media award winners was altered this year in order to encourage broader participation among media sellers.

And by so doing, get a more accurate read on who the media community truly believes are the best media buying and planning companies, as well as the most highly regarded media executives in those companies.

The two most important changes involved:

- Adding further assurance to prospective media respondents that their anonymity would be protected.

- Creating a separate voting process for Best Media Director.

- Weighting responses to better represent relative media position in overall national billings.

These refinements were conducted in co-operation with an ad hoc committee of media sellers.

(A number of media sellers aproached Strategy after publication of the 1993 report on Best Media Operation and offered their help in improving the process.

They said they considered giving the media function special attention through this award vehicle was useful and important.

So much so, they said, that they wanted to work with us to make it better.)

How the best media operation and

individual awards were chosen

Our committee agreed sales representatives, the people dealing on a day-to-day basis with media operations, were well-qualified to make a judgment on the best overall company, and the people at the agencies most knowledgable about the sellers’ own media.

The committee helped Strategy identify senior people at media organizations who would ensure that their sales reps were informed of the upcoming competition and be encouraged to participate.

Also, each ballot was alpha-coded so that only one person, Strategy Special Reports Editor Barbara Smith, would know the identity of each respondent.

These changes more than doubled the response from the media community.

On each ballot, we stressed that the vote for best company or best individual was not meant to be a popularity contest.

We said that we were asking sellers to identify the company and individuals who in their minds represented true professionalism and were setting the highest of standards in the media community.

How the best media director

was chosen

The committee and Strategy agreed that sales reps were not well-qualified to assess the performance of media directors.

This is an evaluation that would have to be made at the most senior levels.

So, the selection of Best Media Director was made through a canvass of senior media executives from all media.

The survey was conducted through one-on-one conversations between Strategy Editor Mark Smyka and media owners and top-level managers.

Each conversation was prefaced with the following guidelines:

‘Let’s not make this a beauty contest. We are looking for the person who, in your view, is the most knowledgable about your medium and your product; who is the most responsive when you come up with new ideas; and who is creative in his or her own ability to generate ideas.

‘In other words, looking for the kind of media director that you would like to see more of.’

Optimedia’s Sunni Boot emerged from these conversations the clear winner.