“We put the consumer at the heart of everything we do”

Toby Hutchins, Account Director


It’s an easy, almost expected thing to say, but is it always the right approach from a media agency? I’ve heard it said a lot, and I don’t think it is.

Consumer insight is important to media planning, no argument there. There is more consumer data available to us than there has ever been, we are drowning in the stuff.
A media agency will always have an important role to play in understanding and distilling this audience data. There are few great campaigns that aren’t based in an audience truth in some way.

The audience should, then, always be front of mind of all we do. In the ‘head’. But putting it at the ‘heart’? I believe a stronger core for a media agency is an ethos, something that builds a culture around an approach to challenges. Putting ‘the consumer at the heart of everything’ places a restriction upon the broad level of upfront thinking that good communications planning benefits from.

There should be a step before the audience of broad, open-minded thought. Thought that’s ingrained in the culture of the agency and isn’t just switched on when a brief lands.
Sure, every communications plan will look at the audience in detail, but the problem and solution may not wholly lay there.

Take the famous example of Sainsbury’s ‘try something new today’. The solution was consumer based, but before that a planner at AMV BBDO looked at the numbers, and realised that the brief was actually asking every Sainsburys’ shopper to spend an additional £1.14 each time they shopped. The £1.14 business challenge then lent itself to the consumer challenge. This was a step before the audience. It is also something that required an inquisitive mind and a broad objective approach to isolate. Put ‘the consumer at the heart’ and you are only looking approaching work from a consumer starting point.

Put ‘the freedom to think at the heart’ and you give communications planners the opportunity to apply the breath of their knowledge to a client’s work, starting from a multitude of angles.
Thinking freely is making connections, lateral thinking; taking a number of entry points and seeing where they take you. One, or several, or all of these entry points may be relating to the audience, but it is the explorative nature of a Freethinking ethos that is at the heart, not the audience itself.

At Republic of Media, we are putting Freethinking at the heart of everything we do. We believe our planning and campaigns for our clients are stronger for it, and that we as planners get more out of our day-to-day work.