January 8, 2007

My First Time

As an assistant media planner at Ogilvy & Mather in 1966, I was assigned to develop a media plan for Milky Way candy bars. First problem: I’d never written a media plan before. In my first fifteen months in the business, I’d trained in media research and bought Spot TV. Think outside the box; I didn’t even know there was a box.

But O&M at the time was a very friendly place (about $60 million in billings in one office at 49th Street & Fifth Avenue) so I wandered around and picked up some information:

1. Milky Way sales were trending down
2. Corner groceries were being replaced by the new supermarkets
3. Single bar sales at candy stores were declining while multi-packs at supermarkets were growing
4. Hardly anyone bought chocolate bars in the summer because they melted
5. Most candy advertising was directed at children

One other bit of information based on my own personal experience: frozen Milky Way bars were really good.

I put this all together and presented a plan to the account group that included:
1. A recommendation for a summer promotion based on packing six or so Milky Way bars in a free ice cube tray
2. Daytime television during the summer when we could reach kids and their Moms (and virtually no other candies were advertising)

Months later I saw a sales chart that showed a multiyear negative sales trend reversing slightly in the previous summer.

A little ignorance is a wonderful thing.

P.S. O&M gave me six weeks to do this media plan. This was a lot of time even if we did not have electronic calculators, copy machines, faxes, fedex or cellphones much less computers… What a great place to work.

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