Field says it’s time to reset media

Fiona Field argues that given the current mediascape, adland needs to reimagine how parts of the schedule come together

Harry Crane may still have a decent fan base online. For those not familiar with Crane, he was the guy who was firmly stationed in a darkened ad agency basement who presented as the media guru, in the much loved Mad Men. Crane was as central to the series as your average film cameo and while the drama seemed like fiction, it bore all the hallmarks of what actually happened back in that adland era.

Having started my career in a similar basement in O’Connor O’Sullivan Advertising a few decades later, it seems much has changed in adland but some things have not changed enough. In Mad Men, Crane was the smarmy media man. He was the one that was reluctantly let into a meeting, but the only one that recognised the true change that was happening in business at that time.

Call for a new conversation: Bringing more focus to the impact of our media choices will help answer the bigger challenges for marketers to create a more integrated media plan. As Don Draper famously said, “If you don’t like what’s being said, it’s time to change the conversation”. There has never been a better time to re-evaluate our marketing efforts and step into the future to see how we can reshape our plans.

Roll on a few years and while the de-coupling of media was a crucial element in elevating the discipline’s importance, the focus has now switched to re-coupling. Advertisers are realising the commercial value that lies in the integration of all of the specialisms that have changed the face of media in the last decade, namely data science, tech stacks, research, creative, strategy and indeed media.

If we are going to harness the true value of the integration of these many disciplines, we really must be serious in following this all the way to the media plan, which is arguably the spine of what is signed off by brand owners around the world today. While the technology may have changed in terms of the generation of a media plan, living with the old terminology is certainly not helping.

A media plan nowadays still contains many of the same elements of years gone by, which in the face of all the incredible change, perhaps it is time to deconstruct the media plan as we know it? In today’s landscape, digital is ubiquitous, so how does segmenting a plan into digital, search, print, audio visual (AV) work when there is considerable overlap in what each of these media deliver?


Print is no longer print, radio is not just audio, so why do we still divide the plans into these linear functions? The time has come to re-imagine how the parts of the media schedule can come together to create a better unification of how we craft a plan. Achieving this requires a major step-change. We need to think about the challenges that brands are facing and align the media plan accordingly.

We are duty-bound by the rules of reach and frequency and ordering these ever-changing media into silos that culminate in a very busy media plan. Brands today are weighed down with a myriad of responsibilities to name but a few; brand purpose, sustainability, diversity and the ever-growing need to fill the top of the funnel, otherwise known as generating sales, lest we dare forget.

The media plan of the future needs to be constructed to directly align with the challenges that brands are facing. So instead of breaking down a plan by media, products and campaigns, should we instead re-organise our marketing communications and the subsequent media plan by going right back to brand values, to help focus our efforts? How would this new mediascape look?


Let’s take Nike’s brand values which are performance, authenticity, innovation and sustainability. By directly linking the brand values to the media schedule perhaps we can then apply more rigour in how we answer those big challenges, with suitable media choices. It will help prioritise investment decisions so brands can share an alignment of principles, whether that’s sustainability or authenticity.

As we move forward, this will be increasingly important, so that tomorrow’s media plan will be a greater reflection of the company’s brand values and marketers can be comfortable in the knowledge that their media choices are the correct ones. The role of media is central. Too often budgetary decisions are solely guided by audience delivery and less about how the media are delivered, for how long and with whom.

If brands are fighting for memorability then greater attention needs to be paid to the ‘how’. Cinema is a good example, where its real strength lies in how the media is delivered and not just the audience admissions. Bringing more focus to the impact of our media choices will help answer the bigger challenges for marketers to create a more integrated media plan for the future.

Fiona Field is deputy managing director at Mediaworks







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