Where Media Planners Go To Die?

Media planners

If creativity had a smell, it would smell like the inside of the recently concluded Dubai Lynx International Festival of Creativity. To paint the aroma, it is mix of strong coffee and popcorn that permeates through the room in a steady hum of conversation, big personalities and idea generation (which to be frank, really isn’t unlike the reality of the inside of most agencies).

It is my one year anniversary with Dubai Lynx. We first met a little over a year ago where I was as a social media intern for the Collective. Soon after I landed a job with UM MENA as an integrated media planner and haven’t looked back. Needless to say I was excited to return and see what Lynx had to offer as I now had a much firmer grasp on the media landscape in the region. To my excitement; this year I had the added perk of competing in a team for the Young Lynx Integrated Planner competition. It was an experience to say the least – one where our team had to squeeze their creative juices and infuse our planning experience into 48 hours of sleep deprivation and stress – which is what most planner’s eat daily for breakfast. But hold the milk – I’ll come back to this….

The message from Lynx 2015 was clear. The media landscape is changing. At its heart the notion of the ‘digital campfire’ is evident. Content is King. User generated content even more so. Connection and conversation are key. Listening to the seminars, which championed incredible creative work and execution, to be honest, I died a little inside.

After spending the last year learning the ropes as a media planner it is hard not to feel like at times we are the unspoken warriors that bring these messages to the people. We are the data crunchers, the swift negotiators and the insight gatherers’ that tirelessly drive and discover the vehicles that instigate conversations and engagement. All this done through meticulous planning; coupled with wavering objectives requiring a degree of flexibility and determined passion.

So, where do media planners sit in this pool of creativity? Whilst the experience of the competition was great, it led me to ask many questions. Are we ready to share the stage with the creatives? Or more importantly are the creatives ready to share the stage with us? Does anyone really understand what we are saying?

We should all be speaking the same language when it comes to brainstorming the next big idea. We should be working together through collaboration and client education. Call me bitter, but it is not just about starting with the next big creative idea. As discussed countless times on the Lynx stage, it is about the data and insight that drives these big ideas – but why does no one think that media agencies have a voice in the idea? Was it just me or were the social giants just doing one big sales pitch at Lynx? It might be a controversial topic, but the media agency has a role to play and is here to stay. How big ideas will be communicated and measured through a symphony of media channels; that provide creative direction and campaign synchronicity (filtered to the right audiences, at the right time) should be at the head and heart of any integrated media plan inception. Creative, the giants and media agencies should be working together from the get go and generating creative ideas that fit the media and client objectives.

Thankfully, my saviour came in the second to last seminar of the festival (and sadly after 4 bags of emotional popcorn eating). It was a man by the name of Richard Copping – executive creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi. Richard called out planners as the drivers of insight. He championed the idea of collaboration between the creative guru’s and media planners. He shared the stage. For this Richard, I thank you. You turned the light on. We will come back to fight another day.

See you next year, Dubai Lynx.

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