When I became a Media Planner my first planning job was on a packaged goods business and on the first day my Group Director, Drew Burke, asked me into his office to tell me about my accounts. Drew was, and I'm sure still is, known for his no nonsense style which I always appreciated because you knew what was expected of you and where you stood against those expectations every minute; ad many of the things I learned from him still I hear in my head and use to guide me to this day.
On that day one of the things he told me was "Pinkerton, there are three ways to get fired here immediately"
1) Make a stupid mistake on your plan or billing and go over budget by even 10 cents without telling me or Michelle (the Media Supervisor) so that we can fix it together before it becomes a problem for our client.
2) Being late on due dates to anyone -- anyone at the client, anyone at the agency, anyone at the media -- without telling them you are going to be late in advance. And "anyone" means "everyone" including the cleaning lady.
3) No double spotting on your Television plans. "If I or anyone sees a double spot on the same program and you don't have a reason for it: you are gone, because you just cost the client a hell of a lot more than you are going to make this year or ever because you are done in this business. So ,If you are home and watching even the six thousandth Gilligan's Island rerun and you see your spot run twice, don't even bother coming in the next day"
Well I was over budget once and told Michelle and we sorted it. I was never late on a due date, And, I would stay up for two nights running looking at my pre-buys to make sure my clients weren't double spotted without some good, but very rare, reason like the quarter-hour turn over in the program's audience was so high we weren't overly building frequency or burn out; or you were taking spots out of the hands of the competition particularly as they were trying to launch a new product or the creative was actually episodic and was meant to run as part of a "story".
Recently, I have been noticing double spotting on the rise and it doesn't seem to be part of a strategy to do so and all I can hear every time is "you just cost the client a hell of a lot more than you are going to make this year or ever".
Just in the past several days since I started taking notes for this article here are some examples not only of double spotting but why the next day the Planner wouldn't have rationale for Drew:
- Jimmy Dean, 2 spots in a half hour on a program about truffled risotto. I used to like that Sun Guy and thought it was brilliant creative, and in fact still do, but the :15's don't have the narrative arc the :30's do and they are really are getting super burned out. Not to mention, I'm not sure how many people are going to be thinking about sausage while they are slicing up their more-expensive-than-gold fungus and even if they were, I think there might be a good chance they might buy something a little more premium than JD -- that is if, of course, if they could find you. Note to JD, you aren't carried in nine out of the ten high-end supermarkets at which the viewers of that program shop, it might not be the best program to run at all, much less two spots in a half hour.
- Lexus - 3 spots in a half hour. In their defence it was two different pieces of creative and they are trying to target a young audience that is almost never on Television and the program is one of the few places to reach them and Lexus spots can be pretty entertaining.
Well the old spots were, these were the new spots.
Seriously? Lexus what happened to your creative? The new IS spots have one guessing if one is watching the latest from Heineken or another of those trying-oh-so-hard ads from the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Vegas only to find out it's...surprise...for an automobile and oh... double surprise...it's Lexus. I understand that you are trying to reach a younger market but becoming more sophomoric about your messaging and dragging your whole brand down isn't the way to do it. I don't think the Germans have anything to be worried about this year.
- Toviaz - twice in the same pod; oh then again twice in the next pod as well. Ok, there might be some logic in making sure that they didn't miss anyone who had to run out to the potty during the break, but then doing the same thing in the next break? Hmmm, this must be a serious problem to have to go to the toilette four times in the space of 20 mins.
- GE, 3 spots in one hour, granted they were different executions and the program is one of the few places to reach anyone able to buy your stock or to pass regulations on you -- but we got it -- you build a lot of stuff that people use everyday and you are always looking to improve.
It is concerning to me, that in this age of addressable advertising or at least the promise of it, that in the age of the GRP, SOV, and Effective Frequency we would somehow be more nurturing of the budget and the clients spend than today in the Age of Algorithms.
Perhaps its because ratings have become so low that to achieve GRP goals brands have to saturate their message in the only places in which their audience is (which means we should probably rethink GRP goals), or maybe the algorithm that was supposed to control for this needs to be...well..rewritten. Or maybe its because we are more concerned with quantity over quality-- but, whatever the case, the clients don't need to be spending as much as they are and as Media Planners it's our jobs to make sure they don't.