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Best New Thinking Winner 2010

New Playing Field

Having planned on most communications media I’ve been forced to think through how planning contributes to the different disciplines and in particular how planning should be deployed to integrate the disciplines together. In the process of which I have come up with what I call a new playing field for planners.

Here’s the simplest way to explain. Take 3 brands BhS, Uncle Ben’s Rice and the Daily Mail.  All 3 are brands but the brand manifests itself in very different ways.  The FMCG brand is built around the promise of the product, the retail brand is primarily built around the service or the actual experience it offers.  The Daily Mail brand is manifested in its ability to function as a medium; the audience it delivers to advertisers determines its commercial value.  As I have become more and more involved in integration I have seen that each and every brand has all of these facets.  Every brand embodies a set of values and benefits.  Every brand has a unique set of experiences that customers and prospects experience. And every brand is a medium.

Brand facet


Lead Comms discipline and how value added

Planning role


Consumer mind

Advertising  – Through optimising creative



Customer/prospect base

DM/database marketing -Through optimising targeting



Consumer behaviour

Sales Promotion/internet – Through optimising mechanic

Private Eye


New Playing Field

1.      Brands are promises or assertions that are typically made through advertising. The aim is to alter attitudes and salience.  The natural territory for this is the consumer’s mind. This is the area where advertising planners work primarily to add value to the creative product – the primary area in advertising where value can be added.

2.      Brands are media. Ad planners are less aware of this because advertising borrows other people’s media.  But every brand has a constituency of prospects and customers who form a medium.  DM planners add value to the DM product primarily through improving targeting – the critical factor for success in DM.

I make use of my DM background to business case who will respond, what they are worth and how much it costs to attract and hold onto them


3.       Brands are experienced – this is the facet where every brand is a service brand.  Planning on sales promotion and latterly the internet needs to add value in terms of mechanics rather than creative work or targeting.  The objective is to shape and change consumer behaviour.   This kind of planning requires very different research methodologies to those used for the brand as promise.

Comms disciplinesConventionally, advertising planners concentrate on understanding the consumer mindset because they worked with advertising in area of the brand promise. They function as psychologists within the agency team

But when I work in direct marketing I need to work with the medium – the client’s own medium not other peoples. So I need to be adept at quantifying your audience, determining their value, increasing their value and working out how little it cost to do so! I become the consumer accountancy function within the team.

Planning SkillsetsWhen I work in the area of how services are delivered and experienced I have to function as a behaviourist. I become a private investigator, a people watcher. I need to understand what scripts people are using when they interact with the brand and how the script can be amended.

And this is how I trained up junior planners – they needed to develop in all 3 areas – they had to be as good with numbers as they were with moderating groups. They had to be able to do this before they could work on integrated business. Otherwise they wouldn’t know where to stand and where to add value.

And Integration is about using the (by now) scarce and stretched resource of planning to feed the entire account team. If the planner does not understand what is required by the different communication disciplines they will provide the wrong product at the wrong time. The benefit of an integrated planner is that this person functions as a glorified midfielder serving all parts of the field and holding it together. Go to the integration area where I provide more detail on the planning process for integrated campaigns.

And here’s a few downloads you may be interested in:

(526K) Above and beyond advertising planning – how planning has to evolve outside of an advertising environment pub. Admap Feb 2002

(145K) Finding your level in integrated communications – where in the process integration happens pub. Admap April 2002


(257K) Planning Integrated Communications- my presentation from the June 11th 2002 APG event


(241K) Planners Toolkit- a collection of schematics in use or under development based on 11 years working on integrated business. Have a go or call me if you need training in how to use it!




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