Horizon's On First, Who's On Second? Indie Unveils 'Where' Approach To Channel Planning

Why, not Who’s on first. Where’s on second. That may sound like a classic Abbott & Costello comedy routine, but it’s actually the positioning behind the new strategic planning practices of giant independent media services agency Horizon Media. Why, or the Why Group, was the consumer planning organization Horizon recently unveiled on Sept. 20. The Where Group is the new communications channel planning organization it unveiled Tuesday. Together, they represent the way Horizon plans to make connections between consumers and brands via advertising and media.

“When we were talking internally about what we were doing for our clients, we wanted to call it something without coming up with boring, standard definitions,” explains Eric Blankfein, who used to be channel insights director at Horizon’s Curious division, but now assumes the role of chief of Where, and will work closely with Sheri Roder, the agency’s consumer insights director who was named chief of Why in September.

Blankfein said the new organizations are in response to a trend across Madison Avenue to shift the focus of planning away from simply understanding media and brand insights, but to understand the motivations and behaviors of an important who -- consumers – and what connects them to brands via media.

“We’re trying to cut through all the bullshit,” Blankfein says, anticipating a reporter’s next question, and answering, “I can’t promise that we’re not going to announce a ‘Who,’ or a ‘What The Hell,’ but what I can tell you is that our planning process is about a complete bottom-up approach, because we are looking at the consumer from a lot of different places. We have broken down a traditionally linear approach to media planning, and we use research, proprietary tools, and brand understanding all at the same time.”

Blankfein concedes that is a common theme across Madison Avenue these days, but he says Horizon’s unique positioning in strategic planning is its “independence,” and the fact that it doesn’t simply “collaborate” across planning and brand teams, but also with its suppliers.

“From a Where standpoint, I’m not just concerned with what the media mix is, but who are the right partners are to be working with,” he says, adding, “We approach this process from the perspective that it doesn’t end with the plan, but includes our activation teams, so when they’re going to market, they understand that brand positioning.”



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