Agency Context Planners ID Fine Points of Consumer Preferences

Aug 11, 2003  •  Post A Comment

It’s not just about the numbers anymore.
Buyers and planners at the biggest advertising agencies have gone well beyond age, sex and income data in their battle for the hearts, minds and pocketbooks of distracted, multitasking consumers, who already have unprecedented choice and control over the media they consume-and are about to get much more as the digital age takes hold and television interactivity increases.
The latest weapon in the arsenal is the consumer context planner.
The CCP is an amalgam of cool hunter, ethnographer, focus group impresario, multicultural maven and data miner; in short, a “culture vulture,” as David Raines, VP of integrated communications at Coca-Cola Co., described Kendra Hatcher, one of the new client-dedicated CCPs at MediaVest USA. Ms. Hatcher is the CCP on the Coke account.
A CCP is a visionary, said Jack Klues, CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group, Mediavest’s parent and itself a subsidiary of Paris-based Publicis Groupe.
Mr. Klues recently described this newest position for TelevisionWeek as someone whose primary function is to “identify the consumer insights that drive media interaction and brand perceptions to enhance the development of communications programs.”
You might find a CCP haunting the malls and the multiplexes just as easily as you might find one hidden behind the one-way glass at a focus-group session or poring over a spreadsheet.
SMG deployed its first CCPs last year in its GM Planworks unit, and last week demonstrated its faith in the interdisciplinary CCP concept by adding five new CCPs to its agency network. Three of the five new CCPs are embedded in specific MediaVest brand “teams” handling Coca-Cola, Kraft and Procter & Gamble.
The “meaningful and actionable insights” that CCPs provide are “every bit as scientific” as psychographics, but maybe a little less touchy-feely,” Mr. Klues said. Psychographics focuses on shared attitudes, beliefs and values, among other qualities. “I feel like [the CCP’s insights are] a complement to demographics, which are hard and fast, and I believe in these behavioral insights we are getting.”
What does that mean in practice? Mr. Klues, Ms. Hatcher and their colleagues in the agencies and elsewhere were reluctant to offer many specifics, citing competition, proprietary data and client sensitivities. Nonetheless, they did discuss these examples of the CCP in action:
Diet Coke’s association with the movies and the movie-going experience is one actionable CCP insight, said Ms. Hatcher, the new Coke-dedicated CCP. That insight led to Diet Coke’s continuing sponsorship of Turner Network Television’s weekend movie programming.
“We studied the Diet Coke consumer,” said Mr. Raines, “their passions, the things they love to spend their time with, their leisure behaviors, and we kept picking up this trend with movies. They love movies; they love to go to them.”
Coke also campaigns on the idea of the “guiltless pleasure” it provides consumers, and “movies tapped that beautifully,” Mr. Raines said. The result was TNT’s “Diet Coke Movie Fest,” weekend feel-good-movie “festivals” that have been running on the cable network since April. To strengthen the connection with consumers, Coke and TNT also set up taping facilities at a retail chain where consumers could go in and “audition on tape,” reciting their favorite lines from the movies in the festivals (e.g., “Show me the money”), and the best renditions have been incorporated into vignettes during “Movie Fest” commercial breaks.
Ms. Hatcher, whom Mr. Raines characterized as “almost a cultural anthropologist,” also brought video gamers to Coke’s attention. “We’re getting a better sense of … how we become a part of that” from Ms. Hatcher, he said.
Yet another perhaps even more suggestive insight is the association between Kraft Foods’ line of Crystal Light sugar-free beverages and women’s reading of books during their times of relaxation. A CCP-gleaned insight is that women consume Crystal Light “during a moment of relaxation,” and that for women who are relaxing, “one of their most preferred activities is reading,” Mr. Klues said. “Once they got that insight, they looked to where can we own that concept of reading against this target. So they did special sections in some of the women’s magazines, they did some stuff online, [they did] `This is an Oprah book, sponsored by,’ and they would do point-of-sale things at Barnes & Noble.”
“Now more than ever, media and message must be connected,” Coke’s Mr. Raines said. “There’s so much information noise in our life every day that we tend to edit most of it out and only things that really matter to us and resonate … cause us to turn and turn up our volume and say, `What is that all about?”’
“How do people engage with TV?” Ms. Hatcher, the Coke CCP, asked. “What are the key drivers?” Sometimes you have to “put the numbers down,” she added, and “just think about this from a more holistic perspective.”
In addition to Ms. Hatcher, who formerly was the planning director at Global Hue, a multicultural agency, MediaVest recently put CCP Bambi Kapp on the P&G account and CCP Jane Lacher on the Kraft account.
Ms. Kapp most recently was VP of marketing at enews.com, a division of Barnes & Noble, and Ms. Lacher most recently was VP of strategic planning and research at G Whiz, Grey Global Group’s dedicated youth and entertainment marketing agency.
In addition, Starcom USA, SMG’s other, Chicago-based division, recently added Esther Franklin as SVP, director of consumer context planning. Most recently, Ms. Franklin was VP, planning director, for Marlboro USA at Leo Burnett. And Starcom Asia recently brought on Angela Feruglio, formerly with Starcom Australia, as its first regional CCP. Ms. Feruglio will be based in Hong Kong. A regional CCP is expected to be named for Starcom Latin America by the end of the year.