Elaine’s our Financial Manager, Media Manager, and also the one who (according to her) looks after the staff and their ‘numerous needs’.
On that note, you can read more about Elaine and her role at Fuel in a couple of weeks’ time, so keep your eyes peeled. All jokes aside, Elaine’s role as Media Manager is undoubtedly well deserved. She’s been in the industry since she was 20 (we won’t reveal her age but let’s just say she remains young in spirit), but work experience isn’t just about the amount of time you’ve been doing something—it’s about the lessons you learn along the way. We make mistakes, we learn from them (hopefully), and then we’re better off for it. At least, that’s what we take away from this little (but largely entertaining) story of Elaine’s.
“When working as a media planner in the early 90’s, amongst my client list was what you could call quite a large client—they were a multi-national company, with an annual marketing budget of about $7million at that time. As luck would have it, I managed to mess up quite significantly on their media campaign in both the planning and buying phases. When it came to booking television commercial airtime, spots needed to be booked 3–4 months out from the intended airdate, with the timeslots available usually categorised by genre as opposed to the programme title, as this isn’t often known. You’re usually able to guess this based on the history of these slots, but these are always subject to change. This is mostly the case when it comes to movies, as the titles of these were often only released two weeks out from the airdate. It falls in to the media buyer’s hands to monitor these for suitability.
The client would approve media plans annually, so it was left up to us as media planners to book media slots as they became available. The only mediums that were used at the time by this client were TV and magazines, both of which were expensive due to high viewership and readership. Internet wasn’t really thing back then, especially when it came to advertising, and even outdoor signage such as bus-stop advertising wasn’t established.
The campaign in question was for tampons and the target audience (naturally) was females aged 16–39. Given the specific nature of this product, a lot of thought had to go into the placement of the commercial in terms of both ratings and environment. By this stage, the campaign was already exceeding expectations, so the client was loving me. Then, this happened; I completely missed the movie title releases, and I’d love to say I dropped the ball because of how busy life was at the time, but in reality, there is no excuse.
The new week of advertising was due to kick off on the Sunday, and we were booked in to appear twice throughout the movie, at a cost of around $8,000 per slot. The next day—first thing Monday morning—I received a phone call that went something along the lines of: “What were you thinking when you booked last night’s spots!” and at this time I was completely oblivious to the situation. My response was that I obviously had no idea what he was talking about, at which point he requested an urgent meeting at their office. So, I went on my way, more or less crapping myself. When I arrived, I was led into the boardroom to be met with cheers from the entire marketing team, all assembled around a cake. This, understandably, only added to my confusion.
As it turned out, I was being congratulated for my ‘unique’ placement of their tampon ad in Rambo: First Blood.
Had I done my job correctly and planned around more appropriate placement and where the target audience was more likely to be, this would have never happened. In saying that, not only did the client see the humour in the situation, but the advert over-achieved in ratings compared with our predicted target.”
There are lessons to be learned here (the most obvious being to always keep your eye on the ball), but more than that it’s about recognising that sometimes great things happen when you aren’t bound by a plan, that a bit of innovation is an effective tool to disrupt people’s expectations (even if it’s unintentional), and things always tend to work out in the end. Of course, as proved by Elaine, it always helps to have an awesome relationship with your clients—something we happen to be quite the fan of around here!
Written by: Elaine Hislop and Ash Stephens