Marketing Medicine: Finding a career in advertising?
ZM asks: I am interested in a career in advertising, and would like to understand what a Media Planner does. Also, what is the best way for me to find this employment?
Chris replies: Media planning is the process of finding the most appropriate media channels for a brand to engage its consumers. The media planner will recommend the best combination of media to achieve the given marketing campaign objectives. This information then shapes the creative process, as it determines the advertising materials to be produced – radio spot, online banner, event poster and so in.
A good media planner needs to answer a number of questions:
Who am I trying to reach with my message? Known from that point as the target audience.
How many of the target audience can I reach through media? Where do I prioritise the investment?
Can I afford to target more than one audience? Clients sometimes ask for multiple audience delivery, without the budget to reach one audience properly.
How frequently does my message need to appear? Some messages can be drip-fed over time, but a launch or promotion will demand high frequency repetition of message.
Luckily for media planners in Kenya, we have regular industry research to measure media audiences. So the media planner’s job has a statistical element, a rational analysis before more subjective criteria are overlaid. We know, for example, how many people listen to Classic Radio at 07h15. We also know from what levels of society they are drawn.
In a professional media agency, a media planner starts with a blank piece of paper and builds her plan in rational way. That then becomes part of the creative briefing discussion, and later part of a combined media and creative presentation to the client. In that meeting the merits of both channel and message are debated and agreed. Here the interest of the client brand is paramount.
In less professional media agencies there is a tendency to buy quantities of media space and airtime in advance at a discount. Then sell them on to clients at a premium. This is neither in the interest of the client, nor indeed of the development of media channels. It commoditises the whole process, and as a market we should resist this practice as strongly as possible.
There is no vocational training for media planning. Candidates need to be numerate and analytical, but also creative! As media planners grow, negotiation skills become more important. If you are a good negotiator, you may eventually specialise in media trading – the purchase of planned media. It can be a stimulating career.
MG writes: Do corporate logos really determine public perception of a brand? For instance the Kenya Airways logo KQ that is now synonymous to the airline. Actually, why KQ and not KA?
Chris answers: The correct visual presentation of a company or brand is important to business success. I am not sure one could say it determines public perception, but it certainly directs consumer attention. I think of it more as a signpost.
As with all communication, logo design starts with deciding whom you want to influence and understanding those people as well as you can. Logo design briefs, which begin with the target audience ‘All Kenyans’ invariably produce flabby, uninteresting designs. A successful logo requires both the client and the designer to put aside their personal preferences, and try to see what will help the target audience recognize and connect with the brand.
Great logos are very simple – the Nike tick for example. Weak logos are complicated and often to be found on billboards advertising public sector or NGO projects, where the client is trying to impose a direction from within his organization.
Kenya Airways airline identity code is KQ. I think they felt that this was well enough known outside their industry to become part of their visual identity. What do you think?
Chris Harrison is a marketing and advertising practitioner of 30 years’ standing. From Nairobi, he leads Y&R’s network in Sub Saharan Africa. He’s ready to prescribe answers to your marketing questions, and you can consult him on www.chrisharrison.biz