BY WENDY CUTHBERT
New mergers and partnerships, confusing readership results, the death of online properties and a rocky economy all managed to shake up the already complex task of trying to figure out the most appropriate media plans six or 12 months in advance.
Over the past year, the 120 or so staff have spent most of their time working for current clients like Sony, Unilever, Cara Foods and Honda, sayas Harrison. "Weíve focused on existing business, showing them the great new tools and what we can do with them."
Like any media operation, the agency is proud of its research tools. "But a lot of people talk about their tools," he says. "We actually use them."
MediaGraphics is one such tool, according to Rob Young, founding partner and SVP, planning and research. "It segments the population of Canada into 14 clusters on the basis of the kinds of media they consume," he says. When cross-referenced with brands, these segments help agency planners design media plans that hit the target more effectively, across all media platforms. The study is revisited annually, he says. "Every year, the segments change because peopleís media habits change." The rate of change is accelerated by the speed at which North American media itself transforms.
Looking into the future under fast-changing conditions is not easy - but itís not impossible, either, says Harrison. Besides, it is, quite simply, necessary. "If you donít commit to something, youíll end up losing in the efficiency game," he says. "You have to have a lot of experience and a lot of nerve."
The other thing clearly on Harrisonís mind these days is succession planning. While he isnít specific about when he thinks the founding partners might be leaving, he says that he is comfortable being up front about putting a new team securely in place. "One day, weíre going to drop dead as we carry up yet another bag of GRPs to throw onto the fire," he says. "Itís time for a new group to take control."
But the "new" group isnít exactly new. Fred Forster, managing director, has been with HYPN for 11 years and in the business for over 20. Fred Auchterlonie, SVP of planning services, worked with Harrison in the early Ď70s and has been with the agency since the early Ď90s. Cam Reston, VP, business affairs, was the "mergers and acquisitions guy" at Labatt in 1990 when parent company Supercorp bought HYPN. Then, when the beer company sold off the media op four years later, he worked on that too, before joining the agency.
As for the coming year, Harrison says that the agency will do what every other media operations company is doing - continue seeking out new business. "Weíll be trying to turn over every stone to see what opportunities are out there."
Rounding up radio rockers for Swiss Chalet
Itís a good example of how research can be the backbone of media planning and creative development. First off, PMB data was used to develop profiles that identified customers as loyal (those who tend to choose Swiss Chalet) or disloyal (those who tend to shop around). Then HYPN married these so-called Pipeline findings - fieldwork questions tied into PMB research - with its own MediaGraphics tool, which groups Canadians by their media tastes and habits, rather than using the more traditional demographics or psychographics.
So-called disloyals were broken down into several groups, some of which had not been targeted specifically in the past, according to Fred Auchterlonie, SVP, planning services for the agency. One group that came to the surface, for example, was Radio Rockers - those younger customers whose media habits are defined by music. Another group was Web Girls - young urban women who spent a lot of time on the Internet.
HYPN took these findings and developed a media plan for Swiss Chalet parent Cara Operations to target these neglected groups. Plans to buy into rock format radio stations and MuchMusic, along with developing more of an Internet presence, expanded the clientís regular buy.
"There was some fine tuning not only in how we planned it, but how we executed it," says Auchterlonie. While promotions generally stayed the same, the advertising creative was tweaked to better appeal to the new targets, he says. "The overall shift was subtle, but meaningful."
While MediaGraphics has been available for several years, this was the first time Cara Operations made use of the tool. "We saw some pretty good results," says Auchterlonie, adding that Cara plans to repeat the process. "They are very committed to it."
| Agency of the Year |
| Gold: Palmer Jarvis DDB Silver: Ammirati Puris Bronze: Taxi |
| Honourable Mention: BBDO Canada |
| Finalists: J. Walter Thompson Ogilvy & Mather |
| Best Media Operation |
| Gold: M2 Universal Silver: Harrison, Young, Pesonen & Newell Bronze: Starcom Worldwide |
| Best Media Director: Hugh Dow, M2 Universal |
| Judges: Creative Strategic |
| How do you get to be Agency of the Year, Best Media Operation, and Best Media Director |
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