Media Ink

Is Madison Avenue really rethinking the mix? Or, is it just mixed up?

Joe Mandese

The new arms race among the big US media shops is no longer billings clout, stateoftheart media management systems, or even proprietary research. It is thinking. Actually, it is a form of creative thinking the kind of thinking normally associated with their creative agency counterparts. And to come up with these new thoughts, media agencies have begun borrowing something else from the creatives: the discipline of account planning.

Of course, they don't call it account planning. They have come up with all sorts of labels to describe their new approaches: communications architecture, realworld media planning, 360 degree media planning and even media account planning. Call it what you will, it is premised on the same ombudsmanlike approach as account planning. The only difference is that instead of focusing on how consumers relate to brands, these new media ombudsmen concentrate on how a consumer's relation to media affects those brands. It is a slight twist and a logical progression.