Why we should celebrate the art of media planning like Spotify did


Media Planning is often seen as one of those adminy-type tasks, involving lots of data, analysing scenarios and endless spreadsheets.

But as the recent multi-award winning ’Spreadbeats’ creative oh so clearly illustrated, media planning is an art.

Not only does the media planning process bring much needed organisation to a new campaign, but it can seriously impact the outcomes of the campaign itself, and should be seen as an art in its own right, says Emily Paterson, Head of Planning at ad agency Yonder Media

Emily Paterson, Yonder Media.

Spotify’s recent swathe of award wins at Cannes for its ‘Spreadbeats’ campaign is a reminder to all of us that the art of media planning is something that we should celebrate.

By creating a music video from a humble excel spreadsheet, a stalwart part of any planner’s arsenal, Spotify inspired marketers to look differently at our media plans; they aren’t just vehicles for brilliant creative but works of art in their own right.

In a world where data and measurability reign supreme, we’re at risk of losing sight of the art of media planning.

With brands having to manage shrinking marketing budgets whilst still hitting higher-than-ever business targets, media has been relegated to the workhorse of the marketing machine, working within the guardrails of effectiveness and efficiency.

But we cannot forget that media planning is as much an art as a science, and that creativity is central to creating brilliant, effective work.

It’s the understanding of human nature, of emotions, behaviour and nuances, the parts that science cannot replicate, that forms the essence of this art of media planning.

It’s driven by instinct and experience, but also by a deep understanding of what is required to meet business needs.

Of course we need to drive results, but the art of media planning allows us to balance immediate impact with that which lies further afield.

The art lies in finding the finely-tuned balance between short and long term and between creativity and efficiency.

To be creative in media planning does not always have to equate with a big, bold idea, (although those are admittedly nice to have, as the likes of Spotify show us).

It’s also about effective communication of messages and authentic audience connection.

Take British Heart Foundation’s recent ‘‘Til I Died’ campaign, where the charity leveraged the attention of the Euros to bring attention to their cause.

It can be difficult to cut through during major tournaments when it feels like every brand is jumping on the bandwagon, but a brilliant use of messaging with a simple, yet effective media approach, helped this one to stand out.

At the heart of the campaign is a collection of 12 beautifully painted murals commemorating young football fans who lost their lives to heart disease; effectively cutting through the football chatter in a way that feels powerful, poignant and authentic.

Another example is Dulux’s Sound of Colour campaign, which used immersive audio and ASMR to bring a mass market paint brand to the attention of the interior design brigade.

Or Heinz’s collaboration with Absolut Vodka, which united two much loved brands and played on the heritage of Absolut’s famous advertising.

It’s often felt that creativity is the sole responsibility of creative agencies, but this shouldn’t be the case; some of the effective campaigns are those that combine brilliance in both media and creative thinking, a strategy woven together from the outset that enhances both.

Collaboration fuels creativity: a great creative idea can be amplified by clever media placement or a new audience approach and vice versa; an unusual media format may spark a new brand expression.

We can’t forget the importance of creativity in our media planning. It’s the thing that will stop every bit of work from looking and feeling the same. It’s also the part that’s often passed over.

Media planning is an art. Let’s not make it a forgotten one.