Toast of the Town: Best Media Planning and Buying

Universal McCann

UM Devises Clever Media Plans

Asked about the wildly creative online placements devised by his Universal McCann in 2006, David Cohen, executive vice president/U.S. director of digital communications, seems to shrug. "The clients jumped on the bus. They've expanded their thinking. They've challenged and sort of emboldened us," he says.

As charming as the deflection of credit may be, um delivered on clients' online media mandates in 2006, and then some. On behalf of Sony, UM devised one of the year's most clever online programs for the remake of "When a Stranger Calls" by creating what Cohen calls an "IM bot" that allowed allowed instant messengers to chat with the film's endangered heroine.

For a campaign on behalf of Intel, UM leveraged AVivocom technology to offer what industry watchers believe was among the first live chats embedded within an ad.

Then there was the program supporting Sony's "The Da Vinci Code," a campaign coordinated alongside Google - a company not exactly renowned for playing nice with others - that presented users with a host of puzzles and quizzes to solve.

"For Intel, the idea was to communicate with the it community in a way that might not have been done before," Cohen explains. "For 'Stranger,' we tried to give that same sense of somebody's watching you, that sense of impending fear and doom, that the movie did. The 'Da Vinci' program presented the same type of mind challenges, on obviously a different level, that you saw in the movie."

Look for UM to push the envelope even more in the months ahead. "Nobody's sticking his head in the sand. We're going to start to truly see what a video-agnostic world looks like," says Cohen.