The Guardian is changing tack in its drive to win the business of media buyers, collaborating with Oliver Group to produce the tongue-in-cheek publication ‘Learn about the world of…The Media Planner’.
The guide is reminiscent of the Ladybird Books For Grown Ups series, which includes childlike advice on subjects such as ‘The Hangover’ and ‘The Mid-Life Crisis’. The Guardian’s version, however, has been devised as part of its ongoing Platform for Action B2B campaign, which aims to ‘to cut through the noise and explain the value and effectiveness of the Guardian’s platforms and audiences’.
The Media Planner’s story, which will be sent to real-life media planners across London, follows the adventures of Claire, David, Toby and Julian. The first two planners partner with the Guardian and, unsurprisingly, their campaign reaches the top levels of engagement.
Toby and Julian, however, go down a wild variety of different routes. Their story ends in bad publicity for their client, accusations of demonstrable racism and the latter being sent a bag of teeth in the post.
The moral of the story – the book tells us – is “the Guardian is where it’s going on”.
Hamish Nicklin, chief revenue officer at Guardian News & Media, said: “The media industry is a vibrant, noisy space and we wanted to find a fun way to draw attention to the Guardian’s impressive credentials. The grown-up guide is a playful look at the world we live in and a reminder that the Guardian’s quality delivers results.”
Brian Cooper, chief creative officer at Oliver, added: “The Guardian wanted something different, because it knows that media planners are busy and needed something to catch their attention, and was willing to let us try something new.
"Developed by our bespoke team housed in the Guardian’s offices, The Media Planner is a prime example of Oliver’s creative and strategic capabilities being used to their full potential and landing the key objectives for our client."
Attracting more media planners like Claire would be the ideal scenario for Guardian Media Group right now, as it looks to balance the books by 2019. It reported a 2% rise in revenue last month, largely due to a climb in the amount of paying members and a 15% boost in digital spend.
Meanwhile the Guardian's print newspaper sales declined by 7.4% year-on-year in June to a circulation of 159,007, while its Sunday paper the Observer declined by 5.9% to 192,889, according to the latest ABCs.
This is presumably why Claire is seen cutting deals in virtual reality and mobile, rather than in print.