Column: Deconstruction - Pimp My Plan Media Gets Jiggy With It

By Kendra Hatcher

A couple of months ago, i overheard one of my clients say repeatedly, "i wasn't bored once!" following four hours of "a day in the life" presentations. That was one of the greatest compliments I have received during my three-year career in media. I beamed with pride as the associate planning directors presented consumer stories with succinct yet provocative headlines, eye-catching graphics, and little to no data. We gave a media presentation without reams of data  blasphemy! Surely the media police will arrest me soon.

Sitting through a bad old-school media presentation is much worse than sitting through a bad focus group. As a comparison, the worst focus group that I attended was watching respondents fill out 45-minute questionnaires. It was like watching paint dry. But at least such a demonstration brings some distractions: Candy, popcorn, or a glass of wine. Whereas sitting through a bad media presentation could cost you your job as you nod off, snore, and dribble in front of your boss and client.

I confess in my earlier years, I was the advertising agency account planner who only called the media department for mri data. But my attitude started to change about seven years ago when my boss had the foresight to combine the account planning and media planning functions by assigning a media planner to report directly to me part-time. Having a media planner on the team was invaluable because of her logical need to quantify our qualitative insights.

It's ironic that I find myself on the other side now, trying to translate sometimes-brilliant creative strategies into actionable brand experiences.

Media planning and buying is dynamic. But let's face it, the way we talk about it can be downright boring. Media planning and buying needs to be "pimped out," like the guys from West Coast Customs on mtv's popular reality tv show, "Pimp My Ride" do, making cars flashier and more attractive. As we found with our pimped-out consumer decks, talking about media from the consumer's perspective is surprising and compelling.

During the upfront season, I sat through a migraine-creating network presentation from a network that I like and watch. However, I had no idea what the salesperson was talking about. Not a clue. Looking around the room, while my colleagues didn't seem enamored, they didn't share my confusion. It was clear they understood the insider, non-consumer-oriented jargon. I didn't.

That presentation could have been amazing, if only the salesperson would have talked about why consumers love that network's shows. Let's talk about consumers' fanatic behavior, and how they could become fans of our clients' brands. If that salesperson only thought to pimp out his presentation, he could have captured our hearts and our wallets.

Consumer storytelling has far-reaching and lasting power when done right. Here are some suggestions:

>> Remember that many of our clients do not have Ph.D.s in media-speak. Even if they do, avoiding jargon makes for a more interesting presentation.
>> A consumer story should lead to an emotion-based consumer strategy that should lead to a creative breakthrough, or, as we say, contact innovation.
>> Deliver on what we promise. The phrase "consumer insight" is mentioned constantly, but rarely delivered.
>> Leverage the emotional power of media.

David Raines, vice president of integrated communications at Coca-Cola, says that "media is both an art and a science," and challenges us to be more instinctive and creative. I have vowed to challenge my colleagues and now you, the media industry, to stop boring us with reach and frequency. We need to focus instead on media's power to touch and affect consumers' lives.

Kendra Hatcher is a vice president and director of consumer context planning at Starcom MediaVest Group's Coca-Cola City unit. (kendra.hatch er@cocacolacity.com)

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