Looks at How Consumers Media Usage Can Improve Creative

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NEW YORK ( -- Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s response to the rapidly evolving ways consumers are using media is a newfangled discipline dubbed “engagement planning.”
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Kevin Brown, 43, who worked at BBH from 1990 to 1995, now leads the recently launched unit as director. Mr. Brown said engagement planning brings knowledge, insights and ideas about consumers’ media usage to the creative process. The result? Broadening the agency’s creative output.

Soul agency
Mr. Brown, who in June sold Soul, the agency he founded in 2000, to independent Nitro, has a background in media but has “always been at the forefront of how media liberates ideas,” he said. “Increasingly, media is becoming a creative discipline; we want our understanding of how media resonates and sticks with consumers to be part of the creative process.”

An example of media’s influence on creative is the Audi Channel, which BBH developed for automaker Audi UK. The channel is a dedicated digital channel on Sky network and airs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a mix of programming. Some content is created by a production company commissioned to make Audi-specific content, while the rest is general interest, covering anything from Le Mans motor racing to golf tournaments.

“It is like a modern-day brochure,” Mr. Brown said. The channel attracts people interested in cars, including the difficult-to-target subgroup of prospective buyers, by offering content people can come to. “It creates a whole new opportunity for the brand to connect to its audience,” Mr. Brown said.

Dick Roth, head of consultancy Roth Associates, New York, said, “It is interesting. Everyone’s trying to address the multitude of media choices.” At the moment there are so many unanswered questions about how to best use new media forms, and engagement planning may presuppose the appropriateness of a particular media. “Does the insight make the media more valuable? or is the media value driving the consumer insight?,” he asked.

Hiring a new team
Since joining BBH in September, Mr. Brown has focused on developing the engagement-planning process within the agency and recruiting a team. Initially, they’ll work out of BBH’s London headquarters then spread to its offices in the U.S., Singapore, Tokyo and Shanghai. His hires will likely be “people with good media knowledge,” although he doesn’t have a specific number of people in mind. “We’ll build the team around client needs.”

Engagement planning, as he sees it, overlaps in some ways “communications planning” and “channel planning,” both of which aim to connect a brand message and consumers at a time when consumers are most receptive. The difference, Mr. Brown said, is that engagement planning is part of the creative process.

“We believe you have to make it part of the [agency] culture,” he said. “It is about ideas that spring from people who come from different disciplines working together.”

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