LONDON/SAN FRANCISCO: Context lies at the juncture of strategy, creative and media, and an iterative process that fosters collaboration between strategists, creatives and the media team is much more likely to create relevancy for customers, a leading industry figure has argued.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, the focus of which is context in advertising, Jim Bosiljevac, group creative director at DDB California in San Francisco, warns against mistaking context for media placement – at its best it is a lot more than that.

But optimising context requires a shift in thinking, away from the linear activities of old where creatives created and media planners bought media.

"An insightful understanding of the audience, a smart creative idea and relevant media placements should feed off each other," according to Bosiljevac.

Context can define the audience more closely and spark ideas for both creative and media placement. A broad demographic description – female, age 35-50, median income – may not help greatly in the search for a connection, "but tell me she's a woman with five kids on a plane to Las Vegas – now I feel like I have something to say to her".

He noted that the creative process is naturally iterative, and suggested planners need to check in regularly and be prepared to change the media plan as the creative idea evolves. At the same time, creatives have to be prepared to share ideas early on.

Creatives also need to consider the broader implications of context. "They need to think about where and when someone might be open to their message and be willing to work towards real-world, tactical solutions."

The media team, meanwhile, should understand that the creative process can be erratic and should forbear from giving helpful advice as to why an idea won't work.

"The process needs to be generative," said Bosiljevac, "so rather than killing the crazy ideas, build on them or offer tweaks so that they do work."

Part of his role, he added, was to "help foster a process that allows for collaboration" between all parties – his own agency, partner agencies, client and media – to leverage context as much as possible.

But context is no substitute for a smart strategic insight and a brilliant creative execution, rather "an additional lever that can be pulled to increase the relevance of a message".

Data sourced from Admap