OMMA's Agency of the Year 2010: Best Media Planning and Buying: Mullen

Zappos"I was sitting at home one weekend," says John Moore, chief media officer at Mullen's mediahub, "and I was thinking, 'What are the 35 or 40 media questions that I would ask or want insight to that MRI, Simmons, Nielsen and all these syndicated databases that we rely way too heavily on, don't answer?'"

The questions that Moore and his team eventually came up with became Nexus, a proprietary in-house survey. This program played a large part in winning the Jet Blue account for Mullen, one of its biggest of the year. "We believe understanding a consumer's relationship with media is just as important as understanding the relationship without the brand and the category," says Moore.

As an industry "we talk about the power of having media and creative in lockstep at the very beginning of the equation," but it doesn't always happen, notes Moore, who this year was named a Media Maven by Ad Age. He points to Dustin Johnson, hired this year to be creative media director at Mullen, as being emblematic of the agency's approach. "Maybe a creative team shouldn't be a copy writer and an art director; maybe it should be a copy writer, an art director and a media planner, somebody who understands the canvas on which we're creating the creative to live in."

At the final stages of the Jet Blue pitch, Marty St. George, senior vice president of marketing and commercial strategy, says his staff listened to Mullen and "couldn't tell who the creative people were and who the media people were - everybody was creative."

Mullen also made a splash using AR to feature the Pen E-P1. Everybody pretty much agreed that the effort featured the best, most gimmick-free use of AR, which entailed putting the camera in people's hands, giving them the opportunity to take photos with the virtual camera and sending them to Facebook.

It took some fancy footwork to get Olympus in the group of the first seven advertisers to appear in Wired magazine's hotly anticipated iPad edition, but Mullen accomplished this in a dramatic ninth-hour maneuver that put the camera in front of an ideal audience.

"Marketers are chasing consumers; consumers aren't chasing marketers," says Moore, readily admitting it's no great epiphany, but it's vital nonetheless to one of the tenets of media: be where the audience is and be there in the right way.

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