Now we have to plan Paid, Owned and Earned (POE) media: Marco Rimini, Mindshare Worldwide
Some of the best laid plans in advertising are now coming from the media side of the business says Marco Rimini, leader - business planning, Mindshare Worldwide.
What is the role of a planner in a media agency and when did the need for planners begin to be felt? How did agencies (including Mindshare) go about filling it?
The idea of business planning is to try to focus all our attention on the business result. That makes a difference because clients are interested in outcomes — sales outcomes, profitable outcomes, response outcomes rather than outputs. Analytics and data have become more important in the new world. All planning has become more data focused. And the other big change is now we have to plan Paid, Owned and Earned (POE) media.
When I joined Mindshare (in 2006) I noticed we had two or three different strategic functions. We had insight, analytics, planning and they were all doing strategy of one sort or the other. But what the client wanted was one voice. So we try to create one voice for the client, one person they could talk to about their strategic requirements. And I think the gap in the market was for a strategic voice based on business. If you look at the work we do for GSK, or Ford, or Pepsi here in India you’ll see that it is more than being a media company, it is being a true business partner. I hope they trust us to comment beyond the media investment.
Is it easier or harder to attract planners — who in any case are said to be in short supply — to the media discipline?
Media agencies have become more attractive rather than less attractive for some people over the last few years. The industry has also come to grips with digital faster. But we still have a marketing challenge: to attract people and make them understand how interesting the things we do are. I think the image of media agencies is ten years out-of-date.
It is, as Unilever says, about magic and logic. Planning is about left brain and right brain. Account planning in creative agencies was founded on the idea that you took the facts and truths understood them really well and used them as a springboard to originality. So the analytics is only the start, the basis for your ideas. You have to try and teach people that ideas and originality don’t come from the facts; the facts just start your brain ticking.
We want to talk about our company as a company of original thinkers. We want to say come to Mindshare because we will allow you to do some of your best thinking. We’ll also be rigorous, we’ll train you, help you get data, but at the end of the day you will get something back which is to use your mind in an original way. Because that’s what clients want at the end, not just some analysis but ideas based on the facts.
They are difficult minds to find. Some great planners have been teachers. They are good at it because of their patience, and they present well, they have lots of knowledge to impart and do it in interesting ways. Journalists can be good at it. Sometimes you find very good, imaginative analytics people.
How has the planning practice developed across Mindshare? Where is it the strongest?
Traditionally we have been the strongest in the UK. Australia has always been strong. India and Singapore are very strong on business planning and analytics, and strategy has been made much stronger now. America is in pretty good shape. They form the main hubs for our clients. Some of the work we’ve done for Ford in America and Europe, the launch of Ford Fiesta, is a good example. We really understood the way in which the younger female audience needed to be talked to. Again very digital, very social, it was one of the great successes for Ford in the last few years. Nike is perhaps one of our most social clients. And it’s a team effort, with AKQA and W+K. We won two big awards at Cannes last year with Nike.
It is often our best example of our digital work. Also our work on GSK here is very good from a planning perspective. I am delighted with the progress here and think Mindshare India should export more. They’ve got some of the best talent in the network and we would like to use their skills and export more of those ideas. Not only do we have a strong Indian voice at the CXO level but also in the business planning community. Sometimes Indians can be too shy so we have to get them to shout about what they do a bit more.
How far along are the Indian operations in terms of getting and using planners.
We’ve got a good but small team and a small number of important clients who buy from them. The important thing is to deliver good quality work, grow it at the pace of the people you have and not to oversell it too fast. And I would prefer to have fewer big clients and good quality work to lots of smaller clients with less good work. So management is set, the way is set now it’s a question of scale.
We are doing a lot more research in India. We are just about to finish an 18,000 sample survey across 18 key cities so it’s going to be one of the biggest studies done. From a research point of view it will make a big difference. That will help the planners get some good background data. It’s called the Mind Reader Survey. Then we have the Culture Vulture survey that’s more about trends. We have a scout network that fuels the Culture Vulture.
They are a group of scouts around the world, (we have around eight in India and an equal number in China). It’s a way of using our scale to try and keep in touch with what’s going on culturally. Media is a lot about culture these days, not just about numbers and facts and figures, broadband penetration, scale and GRPs. For instance, Americans spend 50% of their time attached to some medium. That’s a cultural shift. Everything begins and ends in media nowadays.