Media matters more than ever

And the envelope, please... Okay, so maybe it's not the Academy Awards, but Strategy's annual Best Media Plan Competition is still a pretty decent little happening. And, judging from the number and quality of entries received this year, media planning in...

And the envelope, please… Okay, so maybe it’s not the Academy Awards, but Strategy’s annual Best Media Plan Competition is still a pretty decent little happening. And, judging from the number and quality of entries received this year, media planning in Canada is a more crucial element of the overall advertising and marketing mix than ever. Conceived in 1997 as a way of shining a spotlight on this oft-neglected area of the advertising mix, the Best Media Plan Competition has grown impressively, not just in scope but in the overall breadth and quality of the submissions sent in.

Witness the best overall media plan of 1999 – as selected by our panel of esteemed judges – by Bates Canada for the launch of MaxAir gum on behalf of Warner Lambert Canada’s Adams Brands division. A true multimedia campaign that made full and creative use of TV, out-of-home and interactive media elements, the effort submitted by the Bates team provides ample evidence that a well thought-out and executed media plan can make all the difference in whether an advertising effort – in this case a brand introduction – develops legs and sprints to victory, or stumbles and falls flat.

An almost equal measure of original strategic thinking went into the Dentyne Kiss & Tell media plan – once again conceived by Bates for Adams Brands – which was awarded the honours of Best Plan for a Budget of Less than $1 Million, Best Use of Radio and runner-up for Best Plan Overall.

What do these two media plans have in common other than the fact that they were both done by the same agency for the same client and were both for a chewing gum product? Well, first of all, they were targeted to a youthful audience – i.e. one that is both fickle and elusive – and both included interactive media as a central element of their strategies.

The latter fact is particularly noteworthy, since relatively few of this year’s other entries could make the same claim. It appears almost incongruous that in this age of fleeting consumer loyalty and super-charged interactive media consumption that that would be the case. We suspect that will change in the very near future, though, as pressure mounts on advertisers and their agencies to constantly find the right blend of media, both new and traditional, to deliver relevant messages to consumers, wherever they may be.

However, as the top finishers and contenders in this year’s Best Media Plan competition have clearly demonstrated, the ideas are out there… and they work. It’s all just a question of bringing everything together in a cohesive package that doesn’t leave any stone unturned.

When that happens, there’s little question that media matters.

David Bosworth

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group